Washington State Ferries won't face any service cuts in the 2013-2015 transportation budget.
Members of the Senate made the announcement Tuesday, and Sen. Christine Rolfes of Bainbridge Island praised the preservation of ferry sailings systemwide.
“Washington state has one of the safest and largest ferry systems in the country and I’m pleased to see the Legislature’s renewed commitment to it in this budget,” said Rolfes, D-Kitsap County.
“This year the Senate proposed a budget that includes the ferry system in the baseline for prioritizing preservation and maintenance of our existing transportation system,” she said.
The transportation budget includes funding for ferry operations, continued support for the construction of the second 144-car ferry, conversions for fuel consumption efficiencies, and money to begin design and replacement of the aging Colman Terminal in Seattle.
Senators will continue to work with managers, labor and community members to improve performance and find system-wide efficiencies.
Rolfes said ferries are crucial to the local economy, and she thanked those who helped get that point across with state lawmakers.
“An affordable and predictable ferry system is critical to the economy of the West Sound region," she said.
“Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent and City Councilmembers Brockus, Daugs and Wheeler and dozens of Ferry Advisory Committee members worked tirelessly over the past six months to help persuade legislators from around the state of the critical role the ferries play in our economy,” Rolfes said. “Their involvement really helped.”
The proposed transportation budget assumes a 2.5 percent increase in fares.
The transportation budget also addresses tolls on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, I-5 corridor improvements and allocates money toward a new bridge on the Columbia River.
Officials noted there are no new major transportation projects planned.