State Ferries open house in Port Townsend to field input for long-range plan

PORT TOWNSEND — The state ferry system is seeking input for a long-range plan in light of an expected surge in ridership of 30 percent by 2040.

Washington State Ferries personnel will offer information and take comments on what issues should be addressed in the plan during an open house in Port Townsend on Thursday.

The open house will be from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Cotton Building, 607 Water St. It will feature display boards that explain the planning process and highlight key plan elements. Visitors can drop by anytime during the open. No formal presentation is planned.

The plan, which would not be implemented before 2020, is to serve as a guide for the next 20 years, through 2040. The state is seeking input on issues and priorities that should be addressed in it.

“It will outline service changes and recommend investments in vessels and terminals for resilient, efficient, and sustainable ferry service for years to come,” said state ferry system Assistant Secretary Amy Scarton.

An online open house at https://wsflongrangeplan.com/ will be available through May 24. It includes the same information that will be shared at the in-person meetings and an online comment form.

It offers ridership projections. Among them is that the Port Townsend-Coupeville route ridership will grow by more than half — 53 percent — from 796,400 in 2017 to 1,220,000 in 2040.

It outlines the expected ferry replacement schedule. The state ferries system’s current plans assume ferry vessels will last for 60 years, so between now and 2040, 13 vessels will be at or near the end of their planned lifespan.

The Kennewick,which operates on the Port Townsend-Coupeville route, was built in 2011 and is expected to be in service until 2071.

The plan mentions that one goal is to transition to a zero-carbon-emission fleet are also discussed.

It outlines issues concerning technology, fare and ferry schedule adjustments, partnerships and reservations.

The draft plan is expected to be available for review and comment this fall.

A progress report is due to Legislature in June and the final plan will be delivered to the Legislature by Jan. 1, 2019.

The Port Townsend open house is one of nine planned in the state and the only one on the North Olympic Peninsula.

For more about the plan, see https://www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/planning/long-range-plan/the-plan

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