I find it curious that when anyone broaches the idea of a passenger ferry to Fairhaven on the Ferry Forum it gets slammed down hard. It’s too dangerous or too expensive. Totally out of the question. Not worth talking about. So, let’s move on.
The arguments get a bit mixed up between why the Chief can’t do it, why we’d need a ginormous car ferry to maintain the same service or how the waves are tsunami-like, why it’s cost prohibitive, or why it would take too long. Just not worth discussing. Don’t waste your time.
So, why would reasonable people suggest that maybe a passenger ferry to the transportation hub in Fairhaven should be considered? Here are some reasons.
1. If we lose Gooseberry Point how do we get on and off the island? I’m presuming that losing Gooseberry Point is a possibility. If it’s not a possibility why has Lummi Island been in a state of near meltdown these many months? If we lose Gooseberry Point there will have to be some publicly supported alternative or an awful lot more of us are going to have to learn how to back a boat and trailer down a narrow boat ramp.
2. If we keep Gooseberry Point and lose parking, how will we deal with events like dry dock?
3. If we keep Gooseberry Point but the schedule is significantly reduced, how will that affect life on the island? For example, what if you have a medical emergency on Thursday but the ferry only runs on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday?
4. If we keep Gooseberry Point and gasoline goes sky high or is rationed, or becomes unavailable, how will we get from Gooseberry Point to where we would like to go? What will the costs be?
5. If we keep Gooseberry Point and ferry fees go through the roof (as gas goes up or is not readily available) will it still make economic sense or practical sense because when one arrives at Gooseberry Point one is still technically on an island with a long way to go to get to any place you want to be.
6. If we keep Gooseberry Point but the Lummis feel they have been treated unfairly or forced into a deal they didn’t want, will Gooseberry Point be a pleasant place to wait for a ferry?
7. If we keep Gooseberry Point but foot traffic is discouraged due to high prices and no parking, how have we served those members of our community without cars or with unreliable cars?
8. If we keep Gooseberry Point and, God forbid, our country reaches a point where there is significant civil unrest, do we want the island to be easily accessible by car ferry?
9. If we keep Gooseberry Point and the Chief wears out where do we get the money for the expensive replacement which will certainly cost more than a passenger ferry?
10. And, finally and repetitively, if we lose Gooseberry Point, how will we get on and off the island?
The thinking and the lobbying on the ferry issue has been very short term with the goal of maintain the status quo. Sadly, folks, the status is no longer quo. Things are changing fast, not necessarily for the better. We have enjoyed a virtual bridge for many years. Hopefully, this will continue. Hopefully, gasoline will be readily available and affordable. However, these may be unreasonable expectations. In the future, just getting on and off the island once in awhile may be the reasonable expectation.
It’s shocking to me that the County hasn’t given a more detailed look at a passenger ferry to Fairhaven option. And, very curious that certain participants in the Ferry Forum want to shut this discussion down. We are worried to death about ferry service and yet are unwilling to discuss alternatives. Talking about it, figuring out how it could be done, doesn’t mean you are going to do it. It just means that you have considered the alternatives.