Re: "Pierce to assess costs, benefits of island ferry" (TNT, 1-18).
The ferry is a public service. Thousands of nonresidents and vacation home owners use it every year.
Like it does with any county road, Pierce County invests in the ferry to provide people access to jobs, housing, medical care and education; to connect businesses to customers, to give county residents access to Anderson Island’s public parks, museum, farms and shoreline; and to encourage tourism (bringing out-of-county dollars into local businesses and county coffers).
Like the schools and libraries we all help pay for, our roads benefit all – even those who don’t directly use them.
Yes, islanders choose to live here. But our government makes choices, too. It chose to spend $12 million on a new back-up ferry; no other county ferry system in Washington maintains one. It chose to add runs during low-demand times. It chose to keep the ferries tied up during significant periods of the morning and evening commute, so many people who would live here, can’t – which increased the reliance on tax dollars.
Not noted in the article: Pierce receives some state and federal funding for ferry service. There have been many years when the county road fund did not contribute any money toward ferry operations.