Washington State Ferries Financing Study

Client: Joint Transportation Committee of the Washington State Legislature

The Joint Transportation Committee (JTC) was tasked by the Legislature to conduct a thorough review of Washington State Ferries (WSF). Cedar River Group conducted a number of studies for the JTC and worked with WSF, legislative staff, and other state agencies to help shape a new future for the ferry system. Innovations recommended by the studies and adopted by the Legislature include implementation of a reservation system as a cornerstone of new demand-management methodologies, revised ridership forecasting methodologies, revisions to WSF’s capital program including giving priority to vessel acquisition over terminal expansion, implementing asset management programs, modifications to fare setting, and development of a marketing program.  (2006 – 2011)

Results: The Legislature adopted landmark ferries legislation, including Engrossed Substitute House Bill (ESHB) 2358 the “Ferry Bill” in 2007, which contained specific policy and operational directives, and Substitute Senate Bill (SSB) 6932 in the 2008 session, which provided direction on the development of WSF’s terminal and vessel capital program. In the 2009 session, the Legislature provided funding for a reservations system and directed the Joint Transportation Committee to assist in the development of a pre-design report, which was presented in the 2010 session along with reports on the Marine Employees Commission and the Jones Act. The Legislature provided critical funding for WSF, including for the construction of five new vessels, the first of which was delivered in 2011. Under a new director, WSF incorporated demand-management, asset management and other recommended strategies into their internal operation and the 2009 WSF Long-Range Plan.