Submitted by the San Juan County Economic Development Council
The Joint Transportation Committee of the Washington State Legislature is conducting a study exploring privatization of the Sidney ferry run. The San Juan County Economic Development Council and its partners would like to hear opinions from regional users of the Sidney ferry and stakeholders. Take a few minutes to answer our survey at https://forms.gle/hR4RvLJB3qRSvLjQ9.
The state Legislature directed the JTC to analyze the feasibility of privatizing ferry service to Canada.
Currently, nearly 20 percent of the run includes freight and passenger vehicle transportation to San Juan Island; however, the Federal Jones Act and international SOLAS requirements make it very difficult, if not impossible, for any current private operators to include a stop in Friday Harbor.
The ferry run brings an estimated $30 million in payroll and $126 million in spending to our region, associated with over 1,000 jobs, according to a 2007 study by E. D. Hovee & Company, LLC, prepared for the Economic Development Alliance of Skagit County.
WSF vessels operate at lower speeds — which may be safer and less noisy — than the vessels proposed by private operators. While the increased speed might impact marine life, there is not enough information about factors (routes, noise levels, slowdowns) that might mitigate or amplify impacts.
Potential benefits of privatization include allowing Washington State Ferries to support other runs in the region and farther south in Puget Sound, and a private company might be able to serve a Vancouver Island run more effectively, but possibly through a port not located in the island region.
The EDC is interested in learning opinions on this concept from residents of our region. For more info, email email@example.com.