Why were Washington ferries out of service this weekend?

May 26, 2024, 3:44 PM | Updated: May 28, 2024, 12:36 pm

Photo: A Washington State ferry pulls up to the dock on March 29, 2020 in Edmonds, Washington....

It's been a tough Memorial Day weekend for those using Washington ferries as many travelers have been faced with cancellations. (Photo: Karen Ducey, Getty Images)

(Photo: Karen Ducey, Getty Images)

It’s been a tough Memorial Day weekend for Washington ferry passengers as many travelers have been faced with cancellations.

On Saturday, ferry officials put the Samish Ferry out of service, due to a lack of crew members. That affected riders in Anacortes, Lopez Island and Friday Harbor.

The ferry system also canceled four crossings between Port Townsend and Coupeville on Sunday morning due to low tides. Alternate routes are the: Edmonds/Kingston Ferries or the Mukilteo/Clinton Ferries.

To stay up to date with cancellations, travelers can sign up for ferry alerts via the Washington State Department of Transportation’s (WSDOT) website. For tidal cancellations specifically, travelers can check the tidal cancellations table on the department’s website.

Ferry schedules can also be found on WSDOT’s website.

Frustrations with Washington ferries

However, the cancellations are just another item on a list of ferry frustrations among travelers.

Inslee: ‘We’re going as fast as humanly possible’ getting ferry boats in the water

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee is pushing to keep electric ferries in the works but critics argue the plans should be abandoned to instead focus on diesel. However, Inslee said that would only slow the process of the new ferries even more.

Inslee argued that switching from the originally planned electric ferries back to diesel-powered ferries would restart the bidding process — delaying everything by a year or two. He also stated diesel technology is no faster to install than electric at this point.

Inslee explained one of the reasons for the delay came from the state’s desire to build the boats domestically. Inslee and his team found a company totally committed to the idea but the company was quickly sold to a hedge fund and the hedge fund pivoted from the particular program regarding constructing ferries in Washington.

Another addition to the ferry fiasco is that the price of a trip will increase. Earlier this month, prices for roundtrips went up nearly $10.

Travel alert: Washington ferry prices have gone up amid wave of riders

Washington State Ferries (WSF) attributed the price increase to keeping up with the influx of spring and summer travelers, according to The Everett Herald. Riders can also expect longer wait times, around an hour or two, as the warmer weather entices people to take trips.

And while prices will go back down after the summer, an overall 4.25% fare increase will start on Oct. 1, according to the Washington State Transportation Commission.

UPDATE: On Tuesday, a WSF spokesperson emailed MyNorthwest about Memorial Day weekend.

Their statement said:

“WSF staff worked hard to ensure as much service as possible over the busy Memorial Day weekend. We adjusted taking boats out of service until Tuesday morning, staged a service relief vessel at Bremerton in case one boat went out of service, and our dispatch team worked hard to cover multiple relief requests. One Anacortes/San Juan Islands roundtrip was canceled Saturday morning due to crewing; no other unplanned sailings were canceled this weekend. And the ‘cancellations’ on the Port Townsend/Coupeville route are planned and alerted events due to the extreme tides at Coupeville. There were no Mukilteo/Clinton cancellations due to tides or any other reason.

I hope you and the traveling public appreciated the hard work of WSF’s vessel crews and terminal staff over the busy weekend.”

Contributing: Tom Brock, KIRO Newsradio; Frank Sumrall, MyNorthwest

Julia Dallas is a content editor at MyNorthwest. You can read her stories here. Follow Julia on X, formerly known as Twitter, here and email her here.

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Why were Washington ferries out of service this weekend?