No money for weekend foot ferries in state budget

"The Washington State Ferry service will cut late-night Friday and weekend passenger-only service between Seattle and Bremerton to meet financial restraints imposed by Initiative 695 and the recently-passed state budget.The Friday 8:50 p.m. and 11:10 p.m. auto runs from Bremerton to Seattle will disappear June 18, as will the 10 p.m. Friday and 12:20 a.m. Saturday auto runs from Seattle to Bremerton. The weekend 10 p.m. and 12:20 a.m. auto runs from Bremerton to Seattle and the 11:10 p.m. and 1:30 a.m. auto runs from Seattle to Bremerton will remain intact.Also on June 18, Friday and Saturday passenger-only ferry service on the Seattle-Bremerton run will be eliminated completely.Ferry officials chopped night and weekend runs to spare service during peak commuter hours, said ferry spokeswoman Pat Patterson.Late-night and weekend service was originally geared toward people who had to make appointments after work. Unfortunately, they were on the block, Patterson said.Ferry officials also decided not to run a third summer boat between Bainbridge Island and Seattle. Three boats were on that run for the first time last summer.WSF director Paul Green said scheduling impacts will be less than originally anticipated, but added legislators will have to come up with a better solution to resolve the issue of long-term funding.Though legislators this year restored some money to the ferry service's coffers, some runs were still eliminated.The legislature has helped all of us and we're in good shape through June 30, 2001, Patterson said. But on July 1, that's a whole new ball game.Though budget issues stumped legislators this year, next year's long session will be even more important in coming up with a long-term ferry operating budget.Ferry officials are now turning their attention to a recently-created task force formed to explore funding and service alternative before next session. We'll get ready to gear up for next January, Patterson said. It ought to be an interesting session."

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