Washington State Ferries is holding its last meeting regarding its schedule for the triangle route next week in West Seattle, and we encourage all islanders who are able to attend to do so.
The meeting is set for 4:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 12, at the Fauntleroy Church, and it will be islanders’ last chance to speak up about what they like or do not like about the schedule, slated to go into effect in March. The meeting will be a working meeting for WSF, representatives of the Triangle Route Improvement Task Force and the three advisory committees from communities the route serves. Public comment will be allowed at the end of the meeting, according to WSF spokeswoman Hadley Rodero.
Islanders Steve Stockett and Rick Wallace have been working hard in recent months, trying to get WSF to consider a so-called pendulum schedule, with vessels rotating among the stops on the route on a regular basis throughout the day. WSF has declined to pursue that idea, but Stockett and Wallace have remained engaged on ferry issues. This week, with several other islanders, they arranged for school buses to shuttle people to the meeting and back to the island. Details for bus transport were still being worked out at press time, but will be posted this week on The Beachcomber website and prominently on social media.
“Our objective is to make sure WSF understands we are not invisible,” Wallace said earlier this week. “We will be involved as a community. We are not going away, even though they have only given lip service to a true solution to the problems on the triangle route.”
We agree with Wallace; it is important that Vashon be visible in this process. As most islanders are acutely aware, some of what has been proposed in recent months, such as greatly reduced evening departures, could hurt the island, while providing capacity to Southworth it does not even need. There are additional concerns beyond that, including vehicle allotment policies at Fauntleroy and Southworth and reduced sailing capacity off the island in some of the morning peak commute hours.
WSF received more than 300 comments about the proposed schedule; officials had originally intended to release those comments last week, but decided instead to issue them with the schedule on Dec. 12. We expect those comments will be informative and wish WSF had adhered to its original plan regarding sharing them.
Almost exactly two years ago WSF held an open house at McMurray Middle School, where then-director Lynne Griffith told those gathered that Washington State Ferries employees shared riders’ frustration with the troublesome three-destination route, which she said accounted for 60 percent of missed trips system-wide.
“This is a high priority that we turn this around,” she told those gathered.
Two years later we wonder: Will the new schedule turn the problems around? We expect that answer to become clear on the ferry docks next spring. For now, it is up to us to attend Wednesday, listen and speak up, if necessary, for the needs of this community.