Rename the ferry system!

by Tim Flanagan on February 23, 2009

[I don’t make up the news, symptoms folks; I just report it. Here’s a press release from the office of state Representative Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard. —Tim]

Name change would put accountability, responsibility into saving Washington ferry service, says Angel
Lawmaker wants to change ferry name to Washington Marine Highway System

Washington ferries are an extension of the state highway system, but don’t seem to get the same attention for funding as paved highways. Rep. Jan Angel wants to change that, beginning with a new name: the Washington State Marine Highway System.

Angel says a name change would help to place more responsibility with the state for saving vital ferry services.

“Citizens throughout the Olympic Peninsula rely on ferry service for their livelihoods. It’s an integral part of our economy in Western Washington. Yet, when there’s a shortfall in the state’s transportation budget, it seems the first place lawmakers look to cut is service for Washington State Ferries,” said Angel, R-Port Orchard.

“No one would dream of removing a highway simply because funds are short. Yet when you remove or curtail ferry service, that’s exactly what you are doing — removing a marine highway. We need to begin thinking of it as such. The best place to start is by changing the name to reflect the real purpose of our ferry system,” she added.

Angel, whose district relies on several ferry routes, has introduced House Bill 2230, a measure that would change the name of Washington State Ferries to the Washington State Marine Highway System. The 26th District lawmaker said she got the idea from the state of Alaska.

“Alaska has the Alaska State Marine Highway System and everyone thinks of it that way. People in Alaska understand the importance of their marine highway in the movement of cars, people and freight,” noted Angel. “I’m very concerned that because we think of the boats here in Washington as the ‘ferry system,’ the priority of funding gets placed on the back burner. We need to be looking at the bigger picture of what this system really does, and why it is so vital to our state’s economy. This legislation would give credibility and accountability to the importance and function of our state ferries. We have a marine highway system in Washington, and that’s how we need to consider it.”

The measure has been referred to the House Transportation Committee for further consideration.

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