Gregoire proposes elimination of Sidney run

By Colleen Smith Armstrong
The Islands' Sounder

Gov. Christine Gregoire has proposed cutting the level of service in Washington State Ferries, including eliminating the Sidney run, in an effort to close a projected $5.7 billion shortfall.

The 2009-11 state budget, proposed Dec. 18, closes the shortfall through a combination of program reductions; suspension of state employee, teacher and care worker salary increases; changes in pensions; and using the state’s rainy day fund.

The new budget would take effect on July 1. Ed Sutton, chairman of the San Juan County Ferry Advisory Committee, said of the Sidney run, "Since that service is about to be discontinued on Jan. 4, my guess would be that that service would not be restarted in the spring. What that means for us is that our domestic route will lose a boat year-round."

Sutton continued, "We need to reassess our needs and work with the governor's staff to recreate a service structure that addresses our most critical needs and be realistic about the overall level of service on a daily basis – and in a different context, a weekly basis and a seasonal basis."

As of press time, the proposals from WSF were not yet online, but Sutton said they would include two alternatives. "Alternative A of the long-term plan is to continue as usual and incur a massive deficit in operations. Alternative B includes the cuts and more closely follows the governor's recommendations."

More details will be published as they are received.

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