Ferry Construction Funds Cut
By Guy Span, S.D.
The cancellation of the Transportation Congestion Relief
Fund as proposed by the governor’s draft budget would have only minimal
effect upon Vallejo’s new ferry now under construction. That’s because the
transit District, nimbly enough, managed to collect the vast bulk of the
funds before the spigot was turned off.
However, if Regional Measure 2 (the additional $1 toll on
area bridges) fails to pass, there will not be enough operating funds to
expand to a three-boat service. Thus, in the absence of RM-2, the new boat
will be used as a back up. But in backup service, since the new vessel can
operate at the same speed as the two other faster vessels, there will not
need to be a schedule change, as is required when using the MV Vallejo.
The real problem for the service comes from its high fare
box recovery. That is, the district funds from 60 to 75 percent of its
operating costs from ticket sales. With ridership down from the stumbling
economy, the income has taken a hit. If this continues, it may force a
reevaluation of certain runs for profitability.
Also in RM-2 is $28 million for the construction of a
parking garage. Stacking the cars on top of each other frees up valuable
waterfront land that might get taken for other uses. Not only will this
beautify the waterfront, it assures Vallejo riders that parking will
continue to be available, which is essential for maintaining ridership.