This last Wednesday, the Washington State Ferry M/V Elwha suffered a mechanical problem that caused it to stop in the water soon after leaving the ferry dock at Shaw Island in the San Juan Islands.  While there was a potential for problems, since it was some time before they could get generators running again, the 200 or so passengers aboard were never in any danger.  A tugboat safely towed the ferry to it’s port in Anacortes.  Many passengers were inconvenienced by this event throughout the day, but by the next day a replacement ferry was on the scene.

Initial news reports noted that the incident had occurred and stated the facts.  A US Coast Guard press release also noted the incident, and detailed the precautions they had taken in the event something did go wrong.  Initial TV reports also stated mostly the facts.  However, they had the obligitory mention of the issues facing WSF concerning the ferries taken out of service last Winter.  Certainly we cannot presume that every problem that happens on every ferry is due to lack of funding.

Of course, there are people out there who want to make every mechanical problem a political issue, as shown in this extreme example.  (To be fair, the blogger here in the link is passing on the comments of a commenter. I otherwise rather enjoy reading his blog.)  No, every breakdown is not a political issue.

Yes, the State of Washington needs to spend money to catch up on years of deferred upgrades on their ferries.  Yes, they need to build a half-dozen new ferries in time to have them in service by last year.  Yes, years of tax cuts and budget cuts are coming back to haunt us, as they are with our region’s roads and other infrastructure.  But to tie every mechanical problem into a political mess is simply irresponsible.

I think I’m getting tired of hearing all of the political nonsense every time something happens on a ferry. There are commentators all over who take every mechanical incident on a ferry and say things like “Is this the result of the state mismanaging its ferry system?” No. It’s the result of mechanical issues sometimes happening on any piece of equipment.

Ahoy to newspaper writers, TV editors, and bloggers — GET A LIFE! If 200 people on a light rail train had to be towed to their destination, it wouldn’t have been the result of a breakdown of management at the transit system’s offices. It would have been the result of a breakdown of a part on the train. The bus has mechanical problems sometimes. Your car has mechanical problems sometimes. So does the ferry. Get over it, media!