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Kingston, ferry
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When will beer and food return to ferry boats?

A vessel headed to Kingston from Edmonds. (KIRO Radio, Chris Sullivan)

Grabbing a beer and a sandwich appears to be quite important to state ferry customers. “When will the galleys open?” is a top question the agency gets as service returns to pre-pandemic levels.

The galleys and drinking fountains have been closed since the early days of the pandemic. Those two staples will likely be some of the last services to return, but should be coming back online in a few weeks.

Been to the new Mukilteo ferry terminal?

The ferry system’s Ian Sterling said the vendor that provides the galley service is ramping up for reopening, but they are having trouble, just like everyone else, in finding potential employees.

“That will take some time to get them up and running,” Sterling said. “It will probably open on one boat or one route and then slowly roll back out until we can get them all back open again.”

The drinking fountain issue is a product of finding time to flush the system while the boats are still in operation.

Sterling said they can’t afford to take a boat out of service just to reopen the drinking fountains.

“Unlike the terminals, where we’re able to turn the water fountains back on because they’re plumbed into the city system, the boats have their own potable water,” he said.

That system flushing is also expected to happen over the next few weeks.

“I don’t know about you, but I don’t know if I want to be drinking water that’s been sitting in a holding tank for the last year and a half,” Sterling said. “They just want to make sure that it’s safe and flush the system and make sure that it’s ready to go for everybody.”

I’m hoping they swap out the kegs in the galley, too. That beer will be awfully flat by now.

Sterling also has a reminder that masks are still required on the ferries. You will need to wear one in the terminals and inside the boats. If you are outside on the decks, you can go mask-free. There are also plenty of reminders of the old restrictions.

“There’s still social distancing signage on the floors of the terminals and things like that,” he said. “It’s going to take us a while to get all the remnants and the signs and all of that changed now that things seem to be going in the right direction.”

Sterling said ridership has returned to close to pre-pandemic levels, with the exceptions of walk-on passengers on the Bainbridge Island and Bremerton runs.

Check out more of Chris’ Chokepoints.

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