by Timothe Bonnie
Private ferries will be resuming service in the Puget Sound within two years.
Olympia has notified the Washington State Department of Transportation and Washington State Ferries that they will amend state-run ferry regulation.
Rep. Sherri O’Day, R-Bainbridge, said the amendment is a done deal.
“We’re completely confident it will pass, probably with a simple up/down vote. We wouldn’t send it to the floor for a vote if we thought it wouldn’t pass easily,” she said.
Washington State Ferries is the largest government-run ferry system in the United States.
It has a long history, with many ups and downs. The systemic break-downs and band-aid repairs have stretched riders’ patience to the breaking point.
Hundreds of ferry riders have spent hours upon hours in the ferry lines waiting and wondering just how long it will be before another ferry arrives.
Bill Goodspeed of Mt. Woolard said it plainly: “I’ve had it! I go out of my way to schedule a doctor’s appointment, and whammo! The dang ferry gets some monkey wrench up its tailpipe and we’re stuck out here for who knows how long.”
As for the future, the private companies Black Ball and Mosquito have already geared up for service. These two commercial, for-profit ferry lines were in service from 1901 until 1953 when the state replaced them.
The companies are promising new boats, cheaper fares and more sailings as well as departures from remote islands like Spieden, Stuart and Yellow.
The new Mosquito Lines, not directly linked to the old one, will debut as Super Fly Ferries.
The Black Ball still operates from Seattle to Victoria, primarily as a tourist entity. Mosquito disappeared not long after the state took over.
Black Ball said they will launch a completely new subsidiary for the Puget Sound and it will be called Rainbow Ball.
“We’re keeping with the modern times,” said company representatives.