Monday, April 23, 2012

Ship of Fools

Even for the checkered history of public transportation, the subsidy for this Puget Sound ferry has to raise eyebrows;

It's an enjoyable commute, but one that has attracted so few riders in its first 18 months of operation that taxpayers are subsidizing each passenger at a rate of about $35,000 a year.
After a quarterly review this month revealed the foot-ferry has drained more than $1 million in Port of Kingston reserves and is on track to burn $52,000 a month for the rest of 2012, the three-member Port Commission is considering shutting it down and selling off the two 149-passenger boats.
"It's bleeding money pretty bad," said commission Chairman Marc Bissonnette. "We were really hoping that we could get to a higher level of passengers before now."
....The Port of Kingston owns a marina and leases its ferry dock to the state ferry system. In 2007, after a privately run passenger ferry to Seattle failed, a group of commuters wrote a grant for the Port to get $3.5 million for a ferry that could make two daily trips to Seattle. They got the federal grant — and bought two boats.
On average this year, about 20 people have taken the boat from Kingston to Seattle in the morning, and between 30 and 35 ride it back in the evening. 
Maybe the Port should just buy each of them their own small boat and let them sail on their own schedules.

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