Time for a ferry system review

Accountability and truth telling — virtues in polite society — extend to government. Or so hope the taxpayers.

Preventable design headaches (with “preventable” double-underlined) are dampening reception of Washington’s newest ferry, the 144-car Tokitae, which began the Mukilteo-Clinton run Monday. Tokitae is a Coast Salish greeting meaning “nice day, pretty colors,” not be confused with a bastardization, “nice day, watch the damn ramps.”

On Tuesday, a minor hydraulic leak sidelined the Tokitae’s first round trip of the day. It was a manageable setback. But what about the undercarriage scraping of vehicle with low clearances, a problem flagged by Reps. Norma Smith, R-Clinton, and Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, months ago? Smith and Seaquist report that some of these cars get bellied as they reach the upper parking deck.

“We were simply misled. If the proper analysis had been done, this would never have happened,” Smith told The Herald.

Deck hands can navigate the loading and unloading of cars to determine which vehicles might have trouble, according to the interim ferries’ chief, Capt. George Capacci. While it’s not a public safety concern — Washington ferries have a stellar track record — it is emblematic of a culture of arrogance, if not incompetence, among WSF’s upper management.

Zero will change until there’s a comprehensive review and ferry muckamucks are held accountable (that includes giving some the heave-ho).

Regarding the Tokitae’s design, Capacci told The Herald’s Jerry Cornfield, “I do not think it’s a fatal flaw. I think it’s one of those grooming issues you deal with when you bring a new vessel into service.”

When did “grooming” migrate from the vet’s office to bureaucratic lingo? After getting elbowed, WSF put in a change order to create a smoother ramp on the two remaining Olympic-class boats under construction.

We’ve seen this movie before. A couple years ago, Smith demanded action on the WSF’s new 64-car vessels, which leaned when empty. After the state poured tons of ballast to steady the boats, fuel use dropped significantly. Smith and Seaquist deserve an award for their bird-dogging.

They also deserve action on their June 27 letter to Gov. Jay Inslee, requesting the appointment of a review panel to noodle WSF operations and labor management and present its recommendations to the new ferry director.

The behavior of upper management at the WSF is not acceptable, Smith said. Amen to that.

Talk to us

More in Opinion

toon
Editorial cartoons for Sunday, April 11

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Eric Brossard displays his commemorative Drug Court graduation coin that reads, "I came with hope, worked and learned. I have a new life. A life that I've earned." (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Editorial: Court ruling requires focus on addiction treatment

A court decision allows for a more effective and affordable solution to substance use disorder.

** FILE ** In this March 9, 1936 black-and-white file photo Works Progress Administration (WPA) workers build a new farm-to-market road along Knob Creek in Tennessee. In sheer size, the economic measures announced by President Barack Obama to address "a crisis unlike we've ever known" are remarkable. They amount to the most-expensive plans ever to come through the government in peacetime, rivaling and in many cases dwarfing New Deal spending programs that President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously created to battle the Great Depression. They amount to a political tour-de-force. Yet despite the scope of these remedies, gloom and uncertainty about government's ability to deliver a fix persist.  (AP Photo/File)
Viewpoints: History backs Biden’s broad infrastructure plans

To have the success of FDR’s New Deal, Biden’s plans must do more than build roads and bridges.

Commentary: Help agencies who help children most in need

NW Children’s Foundation supports organizations providing crucial services to help children thrive.

Comment: Climate bill should credit manufacturers’ efforts

State manufactures have worked to reduce carbon emissions; that should be reflected in legislation.

Legislation would support sales of electric vehicles

Washington citizens have an opportunity to help address an important issue in… Continue reading

U.S. voices needed to oppose Myanmar coup and junta

The United States must take a clear and decisive stance against the… Continue reading

toon
Editorial cartoons for Saturday, April 10

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

An architectual illustration shows the proposed Learning Resource Center at Everett Community College. The centerAn architectual illustration shows the proposed Learning Resource Center at Everett Community College. The center would replace the college's Libary Media Center, built in 1988. The Senate capital budget proposal allocates $48 million for its construction, while the House budget includes no funding for it. (Courtesy of Everett Community College) would replace the college's
Editorial: Capital budget a bipartisan boost for communities

House and Senate proposals are substantial and needed, but final talks should secure an EvCC project.

Most Read