State ferries on reduced schedules, short staffed heading into weekend

Dec 31, 2021, 5:01 AM | Updated: Jan 4, 2022, 5:41 am
Ferry crew members work to clear snow. (Photo courtesy of wsferries/Twitter)
(Photo courtesy of wsferries/Twitter)

If ferries are part of your New Year’s plans, beware that most runs are on a reduced schedule.

Lopez Island ferry dock damaged, but still in service

“We’re running a bunch of reduced schedules compared to what we normally do. So we’re on an alternate service plan and have been since kind of mid-October. We’re definitely feeling that this weekend, especially in the San Juan Islands where we’re down a couple of boats,” Ian Sterling with Washington State Ferries told KIRO Radio.

Sterling says inter-island service in the San Juans has been suspended all week because the run is down from four boats to two. On Thursday afternoon, the Port Townsend/Coupeville route was shut down for the rest of the day because of staffing.

Icy roads, after a week of winter weather, are contributing to troubles keeping state ferries staffed. Plus, the omicron variant of COVID-19 is also cutting down the number of available crew members as a number of crew members are out sick or in quarantine.

“These are all breakthrough cases, of course. If they expose their coworkers that could lead to even less staffing, and we’re short-staffed as it is,” Sterling said.

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

Sterling says ferry service is already reduced on most runs, and more sailings could be canceled if the number of employees who can’t come to work increases.

He says to watch social media closely for any last-minute changes. All schedule changes will be posted nearly instantly online, on social media, and on the state transportation app.

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State ferries on reduced schedules, short staffed heading into weekend