MYNORTHWEST NEWS

Half a million ferry passengers expected this holiday season

Dec 20, 2023, 3:28 PM

ferry passengers holiday season...

M/V Elwha Approaching Anacortes. (Photo courtesy of Washington State Ferries via Flickr)

(Photo courtesy of Washington State Ferries via Flickr)

Washington State Ferry (WSF) passengers are already dealing with delayed and canceled sailings, crew shortages and out-of-service ferries. Now comes the busiest time of the holiday season.

Ferry officials said they expect more than half a million people to take a ferry between now and the end of the year. That’s likely to make existing challenges even more challenging.

More on ferries in WA: “It’s ferry Tetris,” Washington ferry issues leave passengers stranded overnight

“It’s tough. That’s why we show up an hour early. It’s a crapshoot,” ferry passenger Mike Zaiss said. “So, what are we going to do now, right? Just continue to gamble on whether we’re going to get home on time or not.”

Currently, 38% of vessels in the fleet are reportedly out of service for various reasons. Only 75% of ferry crossings were on time last quarter.

Staffing has also been a big issue. Retirements and other work separations have led to the loss of more than 140 employees. Some passengers who depend on the ferry say maybe it’s time Washington tries something new.

“They should privatize the ferry system, right,” passenger Mike Zaiss said. “Because Amazon wouldn’t be running late if he owned some ferries.”

In the meantime, ferry officials suggest getting the Washington State DOT app for rider alerts and a real-time map to track boats and times.

More from James Lynch: 40+ year old bones identified as victim of Green River Killer

“Like last night, I got off work and checked my phone to make sure I had plenty of time for the next ferry,” passenger Megan Martin said. “It was going to be a two-boat wait before I would be able to even get on.”

Good advice if you’re traveling by ferry between now and the end of the year.

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Half a million ferry passengers expected this holiday season