Coupeville mayor ‘disappointed’ with ferry agency

Mayor Molly Hughes wrote a letter to Washington State Ferries expressing her disappointment.

Coupeville Mayor Molly Hughes wrote a letter to Washington State Ferries expressing her disappointment over the state agency’s decision to delay restoring the Coupeville-Port Townsend route to two-boat service.

The town council voted unanimously to approve the letter in a public meeting earlier this month.

Hughes told council members in the meeting that she was “floored” when she learned that Washington State Ferries had decided not to add a second boat to the route for another year.

“Did not see that coming at all,” she said.

Hughes said this is not the first time she has expressed her consternation over this issue to the agency.

“Postponing the restoration of this route for one more year is a hardship to our economy, commuting citizens, tourism and emergency access on and off the island,” the letter reads.

Hughes also added some suggestions to the agency on how they could address the issue.

“I just think that they really need to get more aggressive about thinking outside of the box,” she said.

Her suggestions included reducing barriers to hiring and training new staff, increasing vessel production, using existing plans to add diesel ferries to the fleet now with the intention of converting them to electric models later, using funds for ferry construction instead of terminal upgrades and contracting with private ferry operators for passenger-only service.

In conversation with the council, Hughes said that while she supports the initiative to transition to an electric fleet, ferry routes are in crisis and need diesel vessels to operate effectively in the meantime.