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Kingston Public Ferry Meeting

Kingston Public Ferry Meeting

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Published by: CommunityNews on Sep 30, 2010
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09/30/2010

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Kingston Public Ferry Meeting, Sept. 28
th
2010 7-9PM, Kingston Community Center
A public meeting was held to review the performance of the Kingston-Edmonds ferry schedulewhich had been substantially revised for the summer of ’10 to improve ferry on-time performanceand also to review progress on related traffic handling improvements. 23 community members, 2 press representatives, County Commissioner Steve Bauer, and WSF representatives Ray Deardorf and Doug Schlief attended the meeting.
Operational Improvements
Doug Schlief the WSF Director of Terminal Operations addresses actions being taken andconsidered to improve ferry loading and unloading. He reviewed a trial to using the third lane onthe ferry dock to hold waiting cars. This was determined not to be effective due to operationaland safety problems.He discussed an investigation to see if waiting cars could be brought down from the upper holding lot more aggressively to speed up loading. This process is handled by retired WSF patrolmen working for a private contractor. After observing the proves Doug determined that thatthe operations were efficiently run and did not slow down ferry turn around times. As the carshave to merge to load loading speed is determined by how fast they are processed on board, nothow fast the cars are brought down from the upper holding lot.It was discussed that improvements in ferry offloading could reduce ferry turn-around time. Oneaction, the grinding down and leveling of the railroad grade crossing has been completed and thathas improved offloading. Further is action is needed to address control of the traffic light onAtlantic and Main and pedestrian crossings at both the Edmonds Beach Park and at the SR 104 bend at the previous site in the Skippers’ Restaurant. Doug said that there had been an initialmeeting on addressing traffic and pedestrian issues in July with WSF,WSDOT, the City of Edmonds and Washington State Patrol. This will include WSF control of the traffic light atMaine and Atlantic.The issue of interfering trains was reviewed. Freight traffic can delay ferry loading/offloading for eight WSF reviewed this issue with Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroads regional office inSeattle. They advised ferries that freight trains go through at random times and that it would not be feasible to coordinate train traffic with the ferry schedule. They also advised ferries that trainsthrough Edmonds are projected to steadily increase. Ultimately this may require a separated traincrossing such as that proposed in the “Edmonds Crossing” project that was planned for Edmonds but not fully funded.
Schedule effect on On Time Performance
Ray discussed the new Schedule’s on time performance and its effect on traffic back-ups. The presentation included three hand out items that compared on-time performance between ’09 and’10, The first handout showed overall OTP performance, the second showed performance by parts of the day (e.g. morning commute, mid-day, afternoon commute and evening) with data broken down by weekends and by weekdays. Finally weekday data was also broken down byindividual sailings. Ray explained and took questions and comments on the data. It appeared thatthe last data sheet different data than a the same data sheet that had been mailed out the day before. This was subsequently investigated and the data sheet handed out at the meeting wasfound to be the correct one. It was generally accepted that the new schedule had significantlyimproved on time performance and that this was appreciated by riders. It was also observed thatOTP substantially improved after Labor Day. It was also observed that some afternoon commute
 
sailings still lagged well behind what riders considered to be acceptable OTP. They also thoughtthat the reduction of ferry runs had caused then longer back-ups during the weekday commutes.
Schedule effect on Back-ups
Ray discussed ferry backups. Ferry Alerts are a means of estimating how frequently ferries gointo an overload condition. This data is comparable to being somewhat worse than ’09. Therehas been a noticeable increase in “pop up” overloads occurring in the late morning. There is alsoan issue of the growth in ferry backups in Kingston on Saturday afternoons.
Rider issues with the schedule
Ray Then went on t address specific problems that rides had with the schedule. Most liked theFriday schedule. The biggest issue appears to be with the loss of the 5:50 boat and reducedSaturday sailings.
Attendees priorities
Rex and asked attendees to prioritize the issues that they wanted ferries to wok on.The results of this prioritization were:1: Increase route thru put. This includes having greater vehicle capacity at high demand times.This includes eventually assigning a third boat to the route during peak times2: Several tied items:
Increase crew ownership of having good on-time performance
Address need to greater capacity to reduce Edmonds back-ups
Restore a late (10:35PM) sailing. (This could be done at the expense of the early SundayAM sailings)3. Address the problems associated with the loss of the weekday 5:50 boat4. Improve Saturday PM capacity to reduce back-us5. Improve afternoon commute OTP
Questions and comments
Capacity and traffic back-upsWhat monitoring is being done for the traffic back-ups in Kingston? There is no monitoringsystem in place to assess Kingston’s back-ups. WSF will look into what can be done with respectto using the baseline camera back-up data that collected in ’09 to compare it to 2010 back-ups.Mention was made of in-road sensors on SR 104 but those present did not know what data theycollected of how that was used. WSF acknowledged that Saturday afternoon backups in Kingstonappear to have increased. riders observed that the summer traffic lines in Edmonds appear to belonger however there does not appear to be direct date to assess this. It was recommended thatthere be a means to collect data on the extent of ferry back-ups.It was observed that while “travel alert” data showed when ferries were overloaded.. Alertshowever are not a reliable means to estimate the extent of traffic back-up. It was stronglyrecommended that, to effectively manage ferry service, WSF develop means of having reliabletraffic back-up data.It was strongly requested that WSF include a third summer Kingston boat be included in longrange planning. Not only would it help satisfy a clear need but also have a positive net cash flowLoading/UnloadingSeveral comments were made that ferry and terminal crews did not always load the ferry as soonas possible after it was unloaded. Crews were often observed standing around not loading when it
 
was clear to riders that the loading could proceed. This becomes problematic if a train for example delays loading. Doug commented on the need to complete the security sweep beforeloading and actions that WSF has taken to improve sweep efficiency. He agreed that the batshould be loaded as soon as the sweep is complete and will look into why this may not be beingdone.Comments were made that turn-around timed cold be reduced by using both ramps at theKingston terminal. It has been observed that when one boat is behind the other boat routinelywait for the docked boat to leave before docking although the second ramp is available. Specific boat that were mentioned were the 12:40 Edmonds departure and the 5:30 departure. RayDeardorf commented that he is looking into schedule changes that that may be aggravating this byhaving too little time between boats in Kingston.It was asked if, during overloaded conditions, if WSF could use “speedloading”. This is a process where he number of waiting cars that will fit on the ferry is measred out and only thatnumber of cars are loaded. This eliminates delays when the last few cars are dribbled on.Comments were made concerning pedestrian traffic and the possibility of a pedestrian bridge toclear that traffic from car and train traffic. Doug commended that that was one of the items under consideration by the joint WSF,WSDOT and City of Edmonds working group.Comments were made by riders that one boat crew was significantly more efficient inloading/offloading than the other. It was also observed that there did not appear to be anystandard procedures for loading and unloading and that inhibited improving the process. Ridersfelt that schedule changes would not solve on-time performance problems unless there was acomparable effort on the part of ferry crews to address this issue. One individual had questionedferry crewmembers, second and first mates. They were not aware f their boats on time performance record or even what the on-time status was for that run. They also had commentedthat they had no incentive to improve on time performance. Doug commented that these werehelpful input at that they would be brought back to the Director of Ferry Operations. It was alsoobserved that the recent Passenger Vessel Association expert Panel report on WSF had madesome similar comments.Schedule commentsThose present strongly recommended that WSF find a way of rewarding crews fro on-time- performance.Many commented that they were concerned over the loss of a ferry run between 5PM and6:30PM. As these are the most heavily used times they felt that the scheduling process shouldstart by having three boats in this time period. This appeared to be a major problem with the newschedule. Ray said that he would look into this comment.It was observed that the “asymmetrically scheduled sailings was causing delays by having ferry back-ups at the terminal.Comments were made that the 7:05 AM and earlier Sunday sailings were not necessary for ridersand that the boat time would be better spent on late night Saturday runs. It was recommended thatif\the sailing was needed to accommodate engine room crews that it would be less costly and better for riders or crews\to be transported by van.It was requested that the previous schedule holiday boats be restored. This would add late boatcapacity at needed times during Christmas, Thanksgiving and similar holidays. It might also beconsidered for those weekends when there a major festival on the Olympic Peninsula.

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