By Charlie Bodenstab
I’m surprised at the number of negative expectations that seem to exist regarding the new reservation system for the ferries.
I’m also struck by the fact that the complaints are based on some major misconceptions, and I’m saddened that many feel so negative when they should be rejoicing.
What is there not to like about not having to sit in the ferry line for an eternity, and more important, not having the stress of potentially failing to get a space nonetheless?
Addressing the complaints; “Only 10 percent of the spaces will be held aside for individuals who have not made a reservation.”
The implication is that suddenly 90 percent of the spaces have disappeared and the odds of getting a ferry space will be radically reduced.
What this belief fails to comprehend is that in the past we were all competing with each other to get ferry space, whereas now, anyone seeking to get a space without a reservation is just competing with others who have also not made a reservation, or a population of only 10 percent.
The odds of getting a space have not changed, and one can still be assured of getting a slot by the same old technique used before, by arriving at some ridiculous hour only to find you could have arrived later, but you couldn’t be sure and take the chance.
The other issue touted is that; “In the summer there have been lines at the Anacortes terminal that ran back to Route 20 and worse, so how can they handle that mess and still have room for a reservation holder to get through to the terminal?
What is being missed, is that the very reason there were so many people in line was due to the old system where you had no way of knowing if you had a slot, so the strategy was to arrive very early with its unfortunate consequences—a mass of vehicles arriving early and creating a substantial backlog of vehicles, which overflowed up Route 20.
In the new system people with a reservation need to arrive only a half-hour before sailing time. If it so happens that they made their reservation late and find there is no slot available they will make a reservation on another ferry, and again need only to arrive only a half-hour before.
In either case there is no need to use Route 20 as a parking lot.
My other belief is that the system will be a fantastic benefit to all of us going to and from the “mainland” and we will look back with only one complaint; why wasn’t this done earlier?
Additionally, I predict that there will be a positive impact on the islands’ economy as more off-island people find that the “tyranny of the San Juan Island ferry line” is gone.