The phrase,'Unsound Transit', was coined by the Wall Street Journal to describe Seattle where,"Light Rail Madness eats billions that could otherwise be devoted to truly efficient transportation technologies." The Puget Sound's traffic congestion is a growing cancer on the region's prosperity. This website, captures news and expert opinion about ways to address the crisis. This is not a blog, but a knowledge base, which collects the best articles and presents them in a searchable format. My goal is to arm residents with knowledge so they can champion fact-based, rather than emotional, solutions.


Tuesday, March 4, 2008

New ferry chief has no maritime experience; has divinity degree

State's new ferry chief says building boats is first priority

Seattle Times staff reporter

David Moseley, (see pic...he's first left), new head of Washington State Ferries, was riding a ferry the other day when a bike commuter offered a suggestion.

Why not put lockers at Colman Dock, so commuters like himself could leave a change of clothes from his sweaty biking gear?

The idea was intriguing to Moseley, who began his job Monday and plans to spend the next few weeks riding the boats and talking to commuters.

He hopes to generate ideas such as the lockers to engage ferry riders and temper concerns about recent problems with broken-down boats and disrupted schedules.

"I want to get their ideas how to make their lives better," said Moseley, who acknowledges righting the ferries won't be an easy task. The system is $500 million in the hole, the aging fleet needs to be replaced, and fares are so high Moseley doesn't think they can be raised any time soon.

At the same time, the state is moving forward on building six new ferries and is engaged in several studies that could decide how the ferries are run.

"A strategic thinker"

Moseley, 60, former head of the Seattle Department of Community Development, was appointed last month to head the agency following the resignation of Mike Anderson. Moseley will be making $141,000 a year.

Moseley has no maritime experience and was not even a finalist for the job when the four contenders were brought to Seattle in January for interviews.

Those on the search committee said Moseley's name didn't appear until three days into the interview process. Although Moseley was appointed, it wasn't by a unanimous decision by the search committee.

Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond said there were 20 applicants for the job and when her chief assistants Steve Reinmuth and David Dye chose those to interview, Moseley wasn't on the list.

"They came back and said we're not in love with anyone yet," Hammond said. "David Moseley was not on their list, but I thought they should interview him so he was added to the list. I liked his city-management experience and wanted a strong manager, a strategic thinker."

Job one: new boats

Moseley's first priority will be shepherding the construction of the new ferries. Bids on boats to replace the Steel Electric Class boats taken out of service in November are scheduled to come out March 20, with the first boat expected to be finished next year.

While the state initially planned to build three boats modeled after the Pierce County boat Steilacoom II, now loaned to the state for the Port Townsend-Keystone run, the state now thinks only one of the boats will be that design and the other two will be modeled after the so-called Island Home design for boats that run in the Nantucket area of Massachusetts. That boat is larger and considered more stable.

The state also plans to build three 144-car boats; they should be designed by fall, with construction starting next year.

Moseley knows his job won't be an easy one. "There's no question sufficient sustainable resources is the key question," he said. "We're at the edge of what we can expect from the fare box."

Much of his job will be courting legislators to try to win money for the ferry system, which he acknowledges won't be easy with all the other competing causes. He said he met with legislators Monday, "and they are stepping up to the plate."

Moseley said while he knows he faces a daunting task with the state ferry system, it's not the first time he's entered a bleak situation. He said when he was hired as city manager of Ellensburg, he faced severe financial problems and a troubling audit, but when he left the city was in strong financial shape.

Moseley said the ferry system needs more riders, which is difficult with high fares and all the disruptions that have been plaguing the system lately.

Moseley is a graduate of Willamette University in Salem, Ore., and has a master's of divinity degree from the Golden Gate Theological Seminary in Mill Valley, Calif., which led one DOT worker to say, "I am impressed that at least he has a degree in divinitybecause WSF will now need help from someone not of this world."

His other goals

Asked what he hopes to accomplish in the first six months on the job, Moseley said he wants to convince riders that the ferry system is listening to them.

He said he wants to work with his staff to encourage innovation and make sure the right people are working on the issues.

And he wants to work with the local ferry communities to put together a legislative package for the 2009 session.

Moseley said he doesn't feel overwhelmed by the job he faces and says he isn't daunted by critics who fault him for having no maritime experience.

"They liked my management and leadership," said Moseley. "I thought I had something to offer, and that's why I submitted my résumé."

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