Transportation Task Force: Memo on Next Steps (Revised to reflect Transportation Forum Input

Memorandum:
TO: Transportation Task Force
FROM: Charles Norris
RE: Planning Steps Outline (with hearing comments)
DATE: August 22, 2014 (Revised)

Proposed Cranberry Isles Water Transit Planning Steps
Purpose: The ferry survey and hearing comments are expected to provide a sound basis for next steps in planning for service improvements and sustainability. An example of a planning process for the TCI Transportation Task Force has been prepared by Charles Norris for use during the next 12 months, resulting in an action plan for service improvements. The final planning process will be determined by the Transportation Task Force and reviewed with island stakeholders.
Proposed Planning Steps: The steps would include four related planning assessment task areas: 1) ferry service, operations and management options, 2) dock and infrastructure needs and concept designs, 3) vessel requirements and specifications, 4) funding needs and options. A fifth task would be to conduct stakeholder outreach to all user groups, operators and mainland dock managers. Findings and recommendations from the planning process would be shared with stakeholders for review and comment. The objective would be to go to Town Meeting with a specific Ferry Action Plan for service improvements.

1. Ferry Service, Operations and Management Options: The survey and hearings should provide useful insights into the current status of ferry services and issues.as a foundation for short and longer term improvements. Various options will be evaluated, resulting in a short list of alternatives for the Ferry Action Plan. Examples of key topics for consideration would include but not be limited to the following:

Short Term (for 1 to 2 year implementation): Recommendations based on surveys for consideration by current operators.
• Schedule modifications
• Fare innovations
• Consolidation options for overlapping services
• Passenger and freight handling improvements.
• Current Town dock landing rights issues and modifications

Longer Term (for 3 to 5 year Implementation): Identify and evaluate alternative ferry service and management options.
• Seasonal service variations: for summer, fall, winter, spring
• Ferry management options including: all private, combined public and private, all public. (The current service is a combination of private and public assisted service)
• Comparison of TCI service models to similar ferry operations and conditions in Maine and comparable locations
• Town Dock landing rights opportunities, management options and recommendations
• Mainland landing rights challenges, needs and options

2. Infrastructure Needs: Dock improvements are needed at both LCI and GCI landings for passenger and freight. Prevailing wind, wave, depth, and tide conditions have always dictated the shape and form of piers and floats, particularly for safe operations in all seasons. Preliminary engineering and design studies are needed to determine feasible modifications and relative capital costs. There may possibly be low cost short term modifications that can be implemented, along with the more substantial longer term improvements that can be considered. An important consideration for various public funding options will be the design challenges associated with ADA compliant access.

Short Term: Dock management and minor modifications that can be readily achieved.
• Urgent needs that affect the safety and reliability of existing year round docking.
• Resolve conflicts of private and commercial docking use.
• Signage and communications improvements.

Longer Term:
• Future dock needs and modifications for passenger, freight and barge operations.
• Future dock capacity needs for multi-use private and commercial vessels
• Marine engineering studies of feasible configurations: with and without ADA access.

3. Vessel Requirements and Options: The current fleet of private vessels is mixed in terms of age, condition, passenger and freight handling capacity, ADA access, and sea keeping for different seasonal conditions (wind/wave and day/night operations). The needs for year round vessels and seasonal vessels will be identified and outline specifications prepared . Public funding may be available for new vessels that are more suitable for year round use. Similar upgrades may be considered for the private fleet as vessels are replaced and as demands change. Draft specifications can be identified for a publicly funded vessel in case funds are available and if it is determined that publicly owned vessels are determined to be best for future operations. Specifications for privately operated vessels may be needed if some service operations are licensed and/or publicly assisted. As with the docking, an important consideration for various public funding options will be the design challenges associated with ADA compliant access to vessels.

Short Term:
• Easily achieved safety and convenience improvements for the current private fleet, based on operator discretion..

Longer Term:
• Vessel descriptions for year- round passenger and freight service
• Vessel descriptions for seasonal service
• Vessel requirements for state and/or federal funding assistance. .
• Specification and performance guidelines for private vessels if licensed by the Town for route franchises

4. Funding Needs, Opportunities and Conditions: The Town has benefitted from Maine DOT and Federal FTA support for the winter and summer commuter services, and may want to seek more permanent funding for the commuter and other operations. For the longer term, if the Town wants to consider owning vessels as an option, there are Federal and State capital grants and funding options that need to be identified along with required conditions for such grants. Public funding options for vessel purchase and for operations assistance will need to be researched along with identification of the necessary steps for procurement. Funding needs for the most promising operations models could be estimated including approximate capital and/or operating expenses, to help determine a preferred action plan.

5. Stakeholder Outreach: To complete the planning steps, further outreach may be needed including voluntary interviews with current operators regarding their insights and recommendations for improved service. In the short term
term, it is recommended that the Transportation Task Force send operators copies of the survey results and be asked to participate in voluntary interviews about short term and long term service improvements. A brief operator questionnaire would be sent with the survey in advance of the interviews. During the planning process, it would also be helpful to discuss any changes in landing rights, dock locations and associated parking, with the mainland dock managers. As recommended service and management options are identified, all user stakeholder groups could be contacted by the Transportation Task Force for either on-line or hearing review and comment on Action Plan options prior to any Town Meeting decision points.