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Riders loving new ferry technology

Post by Brent Champaco on Dec. 22, 2009 at 1:00 am with No Comments »
December 21, 2009 7:15 pm
Pierce County says technology is helping the Steilacoom-Anderson Island ferry (shown above in September) operate safer and more efficiently. News Tribune file photo/Joe Barrentine
Pierce County says technology is helping the Steilacoom-Anderson Island ferry (shown above in September) operate safer and more efficiently. News Tribune file photo/Joe Barrentine

With the click of a mouse, Web surfers can find where in Puget Sound the MV Christine Anderson is sailing.

An up-to-the-minute map on Pierce County’s Web site also tells visitors which direction the ferry is traveling, as well as its estimated arrival and departure times.

The Web feature is the latest upgrade in a package of improvements that Pierce County has made to its ferry system over the last few months.

The goal: increased safety and efficiency.

Aside from the GPS tracking system, the county also equipped its fleet with computer software that identifies other vessels in the ferry’s vicinity between Steilacoom, Anderson and Ketron Islands. It installed 14 cameras around the terminals, two of which are streamed live to the Web so customers can see for themselves how many cars are waiting to board.

The improvements cost $104,000. A federal Homeland Security grant paid for $60,000; Pierce County Public Works and Utilities’ ferry budget covered the rest.

So far, the public has given the ferry system positive feedback on the new technology, according to Michael Esher, the county’s airport and ferry administrator.

He said he got the idea of a ferry tracking system from his experience in aviation. Airports offer similar technology.

“These sound like really creative things, but they’re really not,” Esher said. “We didn’t invent anything. We just incorporated it into a smaller mode of transportation.”

Read more about this story later this week in The News Tribune

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