Washington State Ferries hits early snags as it works toward return to normal service

Nov 22, 2021, 1:48 PM
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A Washington State ferry pulls up to the dock in Edmonds, Washington. (Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

Washington State Ferries was set to start the return to full fall service last Friday. That plan hit an early snag on Monday, with multiple sailings canceled over crew shortages.

Washington State Ferries to slowly start returning normal service this week

That included the cancellation of all Monday evening’s sailings for one of the boats serving the San Juan Islands. A roundtrip sailing between Seattle and Bremerton for this afternoon was canceled for the same reason, with service scheduled to resume at 2:50 p.m.

Staffing shortages have meant unexpected cuts on nearly all runs for more than a month. As it gradually returns to fall service, WSF has been operating on a reduced schedule on most routes to help cut down on cancellations.

“These changes will help offer more predictable and reliable service systemwide in the face of crewing shortages due to a global shortage of mariners that has been worsened by the pandemic,” it said in a Sunday update. “WSF will attempt to add service when possible, and will provide notifications when full service can temporarily be restored to a route.”

Is it time to sell Washington ferry naming rights to raise money?

Meanwhile, there will be no accepted new reservations for San Juan Islands sailings “until further notice.” Existing reservations will be honored on a first-come/first-serve basis ahead of vehicles without reservations. WSF advises those traveling on standby to “get to the terminal early,” and to expect delays.

The ferry service says it is working to add more sailings for the holiday weekend.

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Washington State Ferries hits early snags as it works toward return to normal service