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Management of Washington State Ferries could be awarded to private contractor

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wsflogoA proposal by Washington State Governor Chris Gregoire to hand the state’s ferry system over to a regional ferry authority has died a quiet death in the state legislature. But what is getting some support is a legislative initiative to set measurable performance goals for Washington State Ferries. A report in The Kitsap Sun says the idea “received a cautious thumbs-up” Monday during a hearing of the state House’s Transportation Committee.

But, says the newspaper, “there was little discussion” of a part of the plan that would turn the public ferry system over to private management if it does not meet performance goals by 2013.

Companion bills in the state’s House and Senate, would set measurable criteria by which WSF performance could be judged. The criteria include on-time performance, cost containment, safety, customer satisfaction, project delivery, and employee satisfaction.

Cost containment measures include fuel conservation measures to include achieving a goal of equal or better vessel fuel cost per gallon than that achieved by the Alaska Marine Highway system and British Columbia Ferries while accounting for any differential tax policies

The legislation would create a 10-person WSF Accountability Board with representatives from ferry users, the legislature and the state executive branch.

If WSF didn’t meet at least half its performance goals by June 30, 2013, the state would be required to put management of the ferry system out for competitive bids from private companies for a six year contract.

February 1, 2011

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