Opinion

Sidney ferry is part of San Juans' charm | Ferry Home Companion

Here we go again. Gov. Gregoire wants to gore the Sidney ferry run.

And (sob) my own paper is endorsing this evil plan.

I dunno if this message from the Ferry Lovers Of Washington will ever make the black and white of print, but in case it does (this being the Age of Transparency) here’s all we have to say about that ... in my minority opinion.

First off, if the gov’s term in office had not mishandled the millions of dollars voted several years ago to keep our ferry fleet in good shape, we would probably have been pretty clear, budget wise.

Second, one of the biggest sources of income to government is the sales tax. Like I always say, nothing happens if somebody doesn’t sell something. Retail in Skagit County and San Juan County will be severely hurt by the lessening of tourists using the Seattle-Anacortes-Sidney-Vancouver Loop and its wonderful ferry ride through this beautiful Puget Sound archipelago.

This is to say nothing of the reduced tourism in Sidney and Victoria for our great Canadian neighbors. Here they have celebrated the return of our abbreviated Sidney run just last year at the Sidney terminal ... which they built for our use specially adapted to our ferry fleet. And this is all the thanks they get.

Sure, there may have been some reduction in ridership as we cut food services and reliable year-round schedules in recent years. A lot of that has been because of poor representation of the ferry's importance by short-sighted advisory committees.

Hear this, governor: that INTERNATIONAL ferry is one of the highlights of this area’s charm. To an Iowan like me, it was like a beautiful ocean cruise in clear waters when I first enjoyed that ride. It reminded me of the cable cars of San Francisco (which some FORMER members of that city‘s Board of Supervisors tried to shut down years ago). No way, said the natives.

Why is it that Canada can have beautiful five-story cruiser ferries with restaurants on multiple floors to fit every pocket and we can’t handle it in the greatest country in the world? We’re lucky if we can get a change machine or candy machine that works.

As a product of public schools, I am all for education. But don’t use the ferries as a scapegoat to make up for school shortages. The importance of ferries transcends provincial penny pinching. Where else besides the Sidney run does the ferry captain stop the engines when he finds a pod or two of orcas at port or starboard or both? ... and announces their presence to the passengers over the loudspeaker so they can go out on deck to enjoy it?

Personally, I think the greatest waste of government we have today is to have two branches of state government with our bicameral legislature. My old home state of Nebraska decided decades ago that they could do nicely with one chamber, rather than have both senators AND representatives.

WSF is an iconic symbol of our home and charm to visitors. In fact, it could be one of the principal reasons to live here if it were improved and reliable. And a reason why the value of our homes would be secure, rather than shaky.

Stand by, 2,275 F.L.O.W. members. We might be busing to Olympia again this year.

Go with the F.L.O.W. (Ferry Lovers Of Washington)

— Contact Howard Schonberger at 378-5696 or hschonberger@sanjuanjournal.com

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