Washington State Ferries sets sail on new summer service plan

Submitted by WSF

What happens when a ferry goes out of service and there are no relief vessels available to take its place? How Washington State Ferries would handle this scenario and various other service disruptions are outlined in the Summer Season Service Plan released on May 21. It can be viewed at www.bit.ly/WSFSumSvcPlan.

Summer is WSF’s busiest season by far, presenting many challenges for the system. Compared to winter, there are roughly 50 percent more passengers onboard state ferries in summer, and only 18 percent more hours of service. That means every terminal is more crowded and lines are inevitably longer.

“Our crews work really hard each summer, on the boats, helping customers at terminals and working maintenance shifts overnight,” said WSF head Amy Scarton. “But when the unexpected occurs and a vessel or terminal is out of service, we simply don’t have enough resources on hand.”

The goals of the plan are to:

• Provide a measure of predictability about how WSF will manage unplanned vessel and terminal service disruptions to maintain service through the summer season.

• Be transparent about decisions, considerations, and priorities when incidents require unplanned service disruptions.

• Outline how WSF will communicate about changes in service with customers, community members, and other partners.

WSF released the plan publicly for the first time last year with hopes customers and partners would gain a better understanding of both the challenges and opportunities the summer season brings. This year, WSF sought feedback on the plan and incorporated comments and suggestions from its 13 Ferry Advisory Committees and customers.