Ferries need to support local riders | Editorial

The new 30-minute rule from Washington State Ferries requires riders to be past the tollbooth in order to not lose their reservations.

This 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 as the ferry pulls off into the sea without you.

But the new rule also makes me ponder: what are we really angry about? Many islanders are calling for WSF 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, causing even more frustration from islanders.

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 loss of the middle class. The workforce is not able to keep up with the growing island population.

Here in the islands, we struggle with a lack of housing while second homes sit vacant for most of the year and more and more houses are used as vacation rentals. Islanders who live and work here 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 who fix your car, bag your groceries, handle your taxes, put out fires, write the news and make your food.

We do not see an immediate solution to the housing crisis, but we do see a solution to making ferry travel easier.

We ask Washington State ferries to actually listen to us when they make changes that seriously affect our lives.

– Journal editor Cali Bagby

Here are some contacts you can express your frustrations to:

Statewide information number: 1.888.808.7977

Dwight Hutchinson: 206-437-3275 ; hutchid@wsdot.wa.gov

Brian Churchwell, VRS Program Manager: 206-515-3645 ; churchb@wsdot.wa.gov

San Juan County Council

Rick Hughes: (360) 472-0253 ; rickh@sanjuanco.com

Bob Jarman: (360) 378-2898 ; bobja@sanjuanco.com

Jamie Stephens: (360) 378-2898 ; Jamies@sanjuanco.com

Your State Reps

Kevin Ranker: Kevin.Ranker@leg.wa.gov

Kristine Lytton: Kristine.lytton@leg.wa.gov

Jeff Morris: Jeff.morris@leg.wa.gov