Report: Ferry to Friday Harbor subsidy depends on use
JARED PABEN - THE BELLINGHAM HERALD
BELLINGHAM - A passenger-only ferry between Bellingham and Friday Harbor could inject nearly $1.3 million into Whatcom County's economy, but it could end up costing taxpayers to operate it, a study found.
Depending on how many people ride, the service could lose between $2 million and $3 million a year, or, with high ridership, it could net between $1 million and $2.4 million a year. ...
... State Rep. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, has introduced a bill that would direct the state to spend $25 million in federal economic stimulus money for five passenger ferries. The bill calls for one of the high-speed, low-wake boats to be reserved for northwest Washington. ...(full article)
A passenger-only ferry between Bellingham and Friday Harbor that could cost local taxpayers between $2million and $3million per year and generate $1.3 million of economic activity? That sounds like a pretty bad deal; spending two tax dollars to generate one dollars worth of local business.
"The consultants recommended a public-private partnership, in which local governments own the boat and essentially provide a financial backstop for a private operator, guaranteeing the company a profit."
It figures that State Representative Doug Ericksen(R) would be a co-conspirator in this proposal to rip off taxpayers with another "public-private partnership" scam. Ericksen(R) wants to have the State pay to build passenger-only ferries, and give them away.
"State Rep. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, has introduced a bill that would direct the state to spend $25 million in federal economic stimulus money for five passenger ferries. The bill calls for one of the high-speed, low-wake boats to be reserved for northwest Washington."
At a time when the State budget is so far in the whole that ferry services are being cut, Ericksen is part of the scheme to saddle Whatcom county taxpayers with a losing proposition that guarantees private profits and public loss.
If a passenger-only ferry to Friday Harbor is really such a great idea, why not license a private company to run their own ferry at their own risk? If businesses in Bellingham and Friday Harbor stand to profit from ferry service, why don't they take up a collection to make it happen? Where are the Chambers of Commerce, why aren't they organizing a private fund?
If there's a significant public good to be had from running a passenger-only ferry, why not have a publicly owned and run ferry? The profits from good years could be set aside to balance out the slow years and the cost to taxpayers would be minimized. Why pay out extra tax money to have a private company do what could be done better and cheaper by a public ferry authority?
I am sick to death of phony free-marketeers like Ericksen, who are always looking for ways to suck the vitality out of our society and economy by socializing the risks and privatizing the profits.