This was originally posted to: Guemes Island Ferry Committee

Minutes 2018-05-08

Meeting Minutes

Call to order

A meeting of Guemes Island Ferry Committee (GIFC) was held at Guemes Library on May 8, 2018 starting at 7:06 pm. Attendees included Steve Orsini, Allen Bush, Bud Ullman, David Prewitt, Sandy McKean.


Two islanders, John Hopkins and Tom Murphy, have written to the GIFC expressing various concerns. We will follow up with these individuals to more fully understand those concerns (see action items)

Unfinished business


The surcharge proposal was discussed today at the BOCC meeting held in Mt Vernon (Steve attended the meeting). The Commissioners expressed a desire to implement the surcharge as soon as possible. Ferry Manager Rachel Rowe indicated that it would not be possible to implement the surcharge on May 20 when the summer rates go into effect given the time it will take to make the required changes to printed schedules and receipting procedures. Commissioner Janicki stated that she preferred a higher surcharge for vehicles (perhaps $3.00 for car & driver), and a lower surcharge for passengers (perhaps $.50). Commissioner Dahlstedt agreed. It is expected that the surcharge can raise $10MM over 40 years. Commissioner Wesen stated that the proposed surcharges seem too high.

At our meeting tonight,  David and Allen lead a discussion around the concept of “Elasticity of Demand” where absent other constraints purchases fall as prices rise and visa versa. Applying that concept to the ferry, Allen expressed concern that a $3 surcharge might well lower overall revenue since the ridership may take less vehicle trips given the higher cost. Steve felt existing data can prove this effect has occurred in the past.

Bud has concluded that our “needs based” fare discount proposal discussion is best delayed until after the May 11th GIFC-PW meeting so that ticketing can be the focus of that meeting.

New Business

Sandy presented an ad hoc description of a set of ideas that he thought might form a vision of how the GIFC could operate in the future. (He was uncertain if the ideas were good or poor, but he said these ideas came to him last week while idling away a night on his boat at anchor waiting for the shrimp season to open the next day.) His idea was that the GIFC could spend less time attempting to discover, validate, and present to all islanders a preferred position on each of the issues facing the ferry (e.g., new vs re-fitted ferry; financing options); but rather that the GIFC could put our efforts into fully understanding the various view points and options surrounding each of the those issues, and then presenting as full a set of facts as possible on the major options to all islanders so that the islanders themselves could make their own individual decisions as to a preferred position from a set of common facts. Most other members of the GIFC felt that this vision would be incompatible with islander expectations that it is the responsibility of the GIFC to sort through existing information to arrive at a single GIFC sponsored preferred position on each of the issues – even at the risk of all members of the GIFC not being in agreement (i.e., a majority recommendation). Bud thought that Sandy’s ideas about collecting information and making it available were good, and that reaching a position on each issue is not necessary; but Bud thought the GIFC should feel free to express an opinion if the GIFC had a consensus on a relevant matter.

It was pointed out that the GIFC Charter requires quarterly “large venue” meetings which are well advertised so that as many islanders as possible can attend. Two such meetings have been held so far in 2018: the annual meeting on January 6th, and the “All Island” meeting on March 31 held at the Hall. It was proposed that the next quarterly meeting be held on July 28th (giving a good chance for summer-only islanders to attend).

David suggested that the GIFC do update sessions at other island venues. The discussion evolved to the conclusion that the GIFC should do a series of updates at meetings of other major island groups (see action items).

David expressed concern that existing ridership statistics may not reflect reality unless they have been properly adjusted for outages and other factors. Allen felt that a detailed study of these ridership statistics may well point to the real bottle necks in the existing ferry operation (e.g., ticketing, requirement for a mid-watch crew member). Bud did some informal discussion of bottle necks with select members of the crew. No clear conclusions were reached from these informal discussions except that the crew felt there was a need to make credit card purchases more efficient.

It was decided that the GIFC will hold regularly scheduled monthly meetings with dates well publicized in advance. Starting on June 19th the GIFC will meet every 3rd Tuesday at the Guemes Library. The public is welcome to attend space permitting.

Action Items

Discuss with John Hopkins and Tom Murphy their concerns (Bud).

The GIFC will actively update other major island based groups on the status of the ferry project (see above). Liaisons were defined as:

GIPAC = Steve

GIPOA = Allen

Church Council = David

GICCA = Sandy

Look into ways to improve islander online access to important documents relating to the ferry service. (David)

Develop agenda for next quarterly meeting now scheduled for July 28th at 2:00 pm. (Steve)

Develop the statistics to prove that fare increases in the past have permanently lowered ridership. (Steve)

Get ridership statistics from the county and analyze the completeness of the data and how the best conclusions regarding past ridership can be reached. (David)


The meeting was adjourned at 9:45 pm


Sandy McKean

Note Taker