The new 30 minute rule from Washington State Ferries requires riders to be past the tollbooth in order to not lose their reservations.
This new enforcement has islanders riled up and we don’t blame them. Trying to catch the ferry can be an emotional situation, nothing is worse than sitting in your car when the ferry pulls off into the sea without you.
But the new rule also makes me ponder what we are really angry about? Many islanders are calling for ferries staff to make a separate line for locals or to simply have a ferry worker scan tickets while cars are in line for the ferry, thus saving everyone time.
These seem like reasonable requests, but those in charge have yet to make a change making people even more frustrated.
And as much as their anger is about catching a boat, it’s also about something bigger. The islands are facing issues that are affecting the rest of our nation, an increasing upper and lower class and the loss of the middle class. The workforce is not able to keep up with the growing island population. (Read more on page 1.) On the islands we struggle with a lack of housing, with people who can afford it, buying second homes that are vacant most of the year. Many others homes are used as rental spaces for tourists. Islanders who live and work year round feel the pain of having nowhere to lay their head and on top of that they are now facing increasing complications with a necessary mode of transportation: the ferry.
So when people ask for lines for locals, they are asking Washington State Ferries to support the people that fix your car, bag your groceries, handle your taxes, put out fires, write the news, make your food and more.
We do not see an immediate solution to the housing crisis, but we do see an solution to make ferry travel easier and we ask Washington State ferries to actually consider us when they make changes that affect our lives.