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Allegations of theft prompt change in Ferries ticket policy
By Cali Bagby, associate editor, Islands' Sounder
Beginning June 15, ticket holders will no longer be able to use the 18-digit ticket number, but must have their ticket or photocopied ticket in-hand.
“It’s a relatively easy fix for us,” said Marta Coursey, WSF director of communications.
According to Coursey, WSF received about half a dozen complaints from Orcas Islanders who claimed that their Wave2Go passes were stolen. Only about 1 percent of state-wide ferry users purchase the multi-use Wave2Go pass, but 5 to 10 percent of San Juan Island ferry travelers use the pass.
Orcas Islander Peter Bohr purchased a five-ride ferry pass this spring and after using it only once, he was surprised when a ferry worker at the Anacortes terminal said he had zero uses left.
Now Bohr is convinced that “thieves have breached the Washington State Ferries’ computer ticket system and are stealing unused rides.”
Bohr said that his pass and purchase receipt had never been out of his possession, therefore no one could have copied his information and that someone must be infiltrating the ticket system. According to WSF, there is no evidence that someone is going into the ferry system and stealing tickets.
“We can say with certainty that WSF’s credit card and IT systems have not been breached,” said Coursey.
She would not speak to WSF security measures because she said that could “help someone abuse the system.”
Coursey did say that WSF does not have the ability to verify a specific person abusing the system, which is why it changed its policy to help ensure passes would not be stolen.
“There could be a 100 ways to get the ticket number,” Coursey added.
The San Juan County Sheriff’s Office has interviewed persons of interest but no charges have been filed. Undersheriff Bruce Distler is confident that WSF’s policy change will be beneficial.
“The fact that they have to present a hard copy should prevent theft if they secure their card,” said Distler.
For islanders who are frequent ferry riders, the solution seems more like a punishment for those who rely on transcribing the ticket number.
“It’s a lousy solution. It eliminates the ability to provide family or friends with our ticket numbers to get them across,” said Orcas Islander Amy Masters. “It also forces us to buy additional rides if one of us forgets the ticket at home. No more calling home for the ticket number.”