Summer Schedule Takes Effect June 12
Please be advised that Summer Sailing Schedule goes into effect on Sunday, June 12, 2016. Schedule highlights include increased service between Anacortes and the San Juan Islands, two trips to Sidney, B.C., and a pilot schedule that includes more direct sailings to Vashon Island and Southworth on the weekends. Know before you go - check out Summer Sailing Schedule.
Customers can get ahead of the crowds by making a reservation.
View the Friday Harbor Ferry Cam
Hiyu Ferry to be Retired and Sold
05/16/16 Press Release from After nearly 50 years of service, Washington's Hiyu ferry has officially become part of history and sailed into retirement.
It was in 1967, as the United States celebrated its first Super Bowl, that the Hiyu joined the Washington State Ferries fleet. At only 162 feet long, the Hiyu is debatably the most beloved ferry in WSF's history because of its petite size.
Population growth in the Puget Sound region and greater demand for ferries means the ferry system has outgrown the Hiyu. With a maximum capacity of only 199 passengers and 34 vehicles, a lack of ADA accommodations and high maintenance costs, Washington State Department of Transportation officials decided it is time for the 49-year-old vessel to officially retire.
"What makes the Hiyu so cute is also what makes it impractical for Washington State Ferries," said Washington State Ferries Chief of Staff Elizabeth Kosa. "While the Hiyu was a good and dependable vessel, its tiny size means it is no longer the best option for moving passengers and commerce across the Puget Sound. The addition of modern, bigger and faster Olympic Class vessels to the fleet means it's time to bid farewell to the Hiyu."
With two additional 144-car Olympic Class ferries under construction and two more already in operation, the Hiyu will be offered up for sale later this year. Potential buyers interested in owning a piece of history will be able to bid for the vessel once it's posted for sale through the state surplus process.
Though small in stature, the Hiyu has served several different routes, most notably the Point Defiance/Tahlequah and San Juan Islands Interisland routes. After being put in storage in the late 1990s for over a decade, the Hiyu reemerged in recent years as a relief vessel and has become known and loved as "baby Hiyu." The Hiyu's last sailing was July 23, 2015. Continued here...
FAC Forum Monday May 23
5/16/16 Press Release: The San Juan County Ferry Advisory Committee will be holding a public forum on Monday May 23, 4-6pm in the COunty Council meeting room at 55 Second St, Friday Harbor.
The FAC is a volunteer committee appointed by the county council to provide a liaison with Washington State Ferries, and provide feedback to ferries on issues that effect our routes.
This will be an open forum for comments and discussion regarding any aspects of our local ferry runs, and in particular questions and concerns regarding recent changes to our reservations system.
Everyone is welcome, and we will accommodate work and ferry schedules as best we can. There will also be a forum in the near future on Orcas, and Lopez residents are invited to attend the upcoming regular FAC meeting on June 8 on Lopez, see the FAC web page at http://sanjuanco.com/fac
This forum will also be streamed live and shared with ferries via the Council video system, at this web address: http://sanjuanco.com/773/Council-Hearing-Room-Live-StreamFor those unable to attend, questions and comments can be sent via email to: email@example.com
Construction Officially Begins on State’s Newest Ferry, Suquamish
05/13/16 Press Release from The Washington State Department of Transportation continues to grow its Olympic Class ferry fleet with a keel laying ceremony marking the beginning of construction of the Suquamish.
On Tuesday, May 10, Gov. Jay Inslee, state Sen. Christine Rolfes, and Suquamish Tribal Chairman Leonard Forsman struck ceremonial welds on the keel of the Suquamish, at Vigor’s Harbor Island Shipyard in Seattle. Inslee welded his granddaughter’s initials, Rolfes, an orca whale, and Forsman, a circle with a dot, the ancient design element found at “Old Man House” in the early Suquamish winter village.
Traditionally, a keel laying ceremony is said to bring good luck during construction and to the captain and crew who will operate the vessel.
Replacing an aging fleet. The Suquamish’s keel laying ceremony comes only weeks after significant progress was made on the third Olympic Class vessel, Chimacum. Last month, the Chimacum’s superstructure was joined to its hull in drydock at Vigor. Construction on the Chimacum is now about 75 percent complete.
“The simultaneous construction of two vessels is exciting,” said Matt Von Ruden, director of vessels for Washington State Ferries. “We hope to continue investing in long-term ferry build programs to keep up with our increasing ridership and replace our aging fleet.”
The 144-car Suquamish is the fourth Olympic Class vessel and has not been assigned to a route yet. The first Olympic class vessel, Tokitae, joined the Mukilteo/Clinton route in June 2014. The second, Samish, was put into service on the Anacortes/San Juans Island route in June 2015. Chimacum, will replace one of the older vessels on the Seattle/Bremerton route in 2017.
Summer Season Ferry Vehicle Reservations Begin April 12
04/05/16 Press Release from Mark your calendar! April 12 is the first day that customers can make summer sailing reservations on the San Juan Islands, Sidney, BC, and Port Townsend/Coupeville routes. We anticipate a high volume of phone calls and visits to our website, and customers should expect extended wait times for service. If you would like to make reservations for less popular sailings – for example, mid-week departures or sailings that do not coincide with a holiday – you may wish to contact us starting Wednesday, April 13, to avoid long wait times. Thank you for your patience and understanding. Make a Reservation
Spring into a New Sailing Schedule
03/13/16 Press Release from Plan ahead for the new spring 2016 sailing schedule. The begins this Sunday, March 20 and runs through June 11. The Anacortes/Sidney, B.C. route reopens with one round-trip per day. On the Anacortes/San Juan Island route, customers will see the return of weekend inter-island service and additional weekday sailings. Please check the schedule online or pick up a green schedule at the terminal or on the vessels.
Yakima Out of Service Due to Fire
03/08/16 4:00pm UPDATE and photos sent in by Jim Corenman, Chair, San Juan County FAC: The tug Garth Foss pulled the Yakima out of the Friday Harbor ferry dock and is headed for Eagle Harbor, WSF's maintenance base on Bainbridge Island. Click to enlarge photos.
03/08/16 2:00pm Press Release fromThis morning at 10:25 a.m., while tied up at Friday Harbor's main slip, deck crews reported smoke coming from a vent on the Yakima's car deck. The engine crew investigated immediately and discovered a fire in the machine shop, near the control room, and immediately extinguished it. The fire was found to be electrical and the cause is under investigation. The fire was contained to a 2'x4'x6' electrical panel (see picture).
The crew reacted quickly and there were no injuries from the fire. The Yakima had just begun loading at the time the smoke was reported, with only a few passengers on board. Although the fire was out within minutes, deck crews disembarked the few passengers on board and we suspended operation of the Yakima. It is currently moored in Friday Harbor and service there is suspended until the Yakima is towed from the slip, which is presently scheduled for approximately 2:30 p.m.
The US Coast Guard was promptly notified and the 10:30 a.m. sailing from Friday Harbor to Anacortes, cancelled. To minimize service impacts, we will be using the Chelan (at this time of year only used in the morning), on the Yakima's afternoon sailings, until further notice. We have suspended new reservations and will give priority to existing reservation holders. Due to availability of vessels, we expect normal service to begin later today.
Washington State Ferries is working to resume normal service tomorrow, Wednesday, March 9. As vessels are repositioned, updates will occur. If full service resumes, reservations will open early tomorrow morning.
Repairs to the Samish Underway
02/26/16 Press Release from On Sunday, Feb. 14, a quarter-sized hole was found in the hull of the Samish, beneath the waterline. I am proud that our crew immediately stopped the leak, and the vessel was taken out of service.
Earlier this week, the Samish was put into dry dock and engineers discovered localized corrosion along the keel. Repairs are currently underway as we determine the precise cause of the corrosion. The dry dock is available until March 10, and we are working hard to complete the work by then and return the Samish to service shortly thereafter.
Out of an abundance of caution, we will also be examining our other Olympic Class ferry, the Tokitae, to ensure there is no corrosion occurring.
Samish Ferry Out of Service
02/14/16 Press Release from Due to necessary repairs, the M/V Samish is out of service until further notice. The Kitsap will replace the Samish beginning Monday, Feb. 15, downsizing the route from a 144-car vessel to a 124-car vessel.
State’s Oldest Ferry Officially Decommissioned
Due in part to its status as the state’s oldest ferry, the Evergreen State has been decommissioned and will soon be put up for sale.
The 87-car ferry boasts World War II surplus drive motors and has served as a workhorse for tens of thousands of passengers and vehicles in our state for more than six decades.
“The recent addition of two modern, larger and faster Olympic Class vessels to the fleet means the Evergreen State is no longer the best solution for moving people and goods across our state’s waters,” said Washington State Ferries Chief of Staff Elizabeth Kosa. “While it’s bittersweet to say goodbye, difficulty locating replacement parts and maintaining a vintage vessel are also factors that make it time for the E-State to retire.”
The 62-year-old ferry was originally slated for decommissioning last spring, but was called back into service over the summer while other vessels were out of service for maintenance or repairs. With two additional 144-car Olympic Class ferries under construction, the Evergreen State will soon be offered up for sale. Potential buyers interested in owning a piece of history will be able to bid for the vessel once it’s posted for sale through the state surplus process.
The Evergreen State was the largest ferry on the West Coast when it was built to serve on the Seattle/Bainbridge route. However, it spent the majority of its storied career in the San Juan Islands, where it was involved in several rescues at sea. Its crew also saved the life of an overturned kayaker near Fauntleroy in January 2003.
Help Name the Next Ferry
The WA State Transportation Commission (WSTC) needs your help in selecting a name for the next new ferry that will soon be under construction. There are three names under consideration so please click on the link below and take a very short survey to tell us which name you like the most. Start Survey
WSF to Start Construction of Fourth Olympic Class Ferry
12/28/15 Press Release fromWashington State Ferries is starting off the New Year with construction of a new Olympic Class ferry. WSF signed a Notice to Proceed last week with shipbuilder Vigor Industrial for work on its fourth 144-vehicle ferry, and work begins in January. The new ferry is funded through the Connecting Washington transportation funding package.
Along with the Tokitae, Samish and Chimacum, the fourth Olympic Class ferry improves fleet reliability and safety by replacing four of the state’s oldest ferries built during the 1950s and 1960s.
“Our top priority is keeping the ferry system safe and reliable for the millions of commuters, freight haulers and travelers who depend on us every year,” said WSF Chief of Staff Elizabeth Kosa. “Thanks to state lawmakers and critical funds from Connecting Washington, we are able to meet some of the ferry system’s most urgent needs, including building this new ferry.”
The fourth ferry will be built at Vigor Industrial, supporting about 500 jobs at Vigor’s Seattle shipyard and contractors around the region. The budget to build the vessel is $122 million, and delivery is scheduled for mid-2018. The Washington State Transportation Commission is leading a public process to determine the fourth ferry’s name.
Olympic Class ferries are equipped with the latest emergency-evacuation and fire-suppression systems, two Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant elevators, and wider car-deck lanes that provide more room for passengers to access their vehicles. The vessels’ hull design reduces wake and provides better fuel efficiency, while cleaner burning engines reduce emissions.
The first two Olympic Class ferries were delivered on time and under budget. The third vessel, under construction at Vigor, is on schedule, under budget and will be assigned to the Seattle/Bremerton route in early 2017.
Winter Ferry Schedule Starts Dec. 27
12/23/15 Press Release fromWashington State Ferries’ winter schedule begins this Sunday, Dec. 27, 2015 and runs through March 19, 2016. Service out of Anacortes to Sidney, B.C. will be suspended for the winter. The Anacortes/San Juan Island routes will operate three vessels on weekends (no dedicated inter-island vessel) with four vessels in service on weekdays. Please check the schedule online or pick up a blue schedule, #239, at the terminal or on the vessels.
Public Meetings To Discuss Vehicle Reservations Start Oct. 14
09/30/15 Press Release fromSave the dates: WSF is holding a series of public meetings to help make vehicle reservations in the San Juan's work for everyone. Meeting dates are Oct. 14, 15, 21 and 22; at Lopez, Orcas, San Juan and Shaw islands. Discussion topics include how reservations have been working for islanders, and the benefits and challenges of the current system. We look forward to seeing you.
For more information about public meetings visit: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Ferries/Planning/VehicleReservations.htm or email questions or comments to: WSFReservations@wsdot.wa.gov.
Fall Ferry Schedule Begins 9/20
Washington State Ferries’ fall schedule begins Sunday Sept. 20, 2015. Please check the schedule online or pick up a purple schedule at the terminal or on the vessels. The new schedule has the typical reduction of five-boat service to four-boat service and only one daily international sailing to Sidney B.C. The peak season surcharge is in effect through Sept. 30. More on the WSF website.
Drones and Ferries in the News
08/28/15 Press Release from Lynne Griffith, Assistant Secretary atI’m often surprised by the unique challenges of operating a ferry system. Recently, we’ve had reports of drones being flown over and near our ferries, so I thought I’d share some information and recent news coverage.
Earlier this summer, one of our captains reported that a drone was posing a navigational hazard as he landed at the Anacortes terminal. The captain reported that the drone flew just feet away and directly in front of the pilothouse during the landing. Terminal staff was able to locate the drone operator who is now the subject of a U.S. Coast Guard investigation. It is not always illegal to fly a drone near ferry facilities or vessels, but it is against the law to interfere with the navigation and operation of our vessels.
We are one of the safest ferry systems in the world, and we work hard every day to stay that way. That’s why this incident and others like it, is of particular concern to me.
Elwha Out of Service for the Summer
07/14/15 Press Release fromThe 48-year-old Elwha will remain out of service for approximately four months while crews perform emergency repairs to a drive motor. We realize having one of our mid-sized vessels out for an extended period of time puts a strain on travelers, especially during the height of our busiest season. Until further notice, the 124-car Kitsap will continue to serve the Anacortes/San Juan Islands route in place of the Elwha.
Plan Ahead for Smooth Fourth of July Travel
06/25/15 Press Release from WSDOT: OLYMPIA – Want to thoroughly enjoy your hot dogs and fireworks during the Fourth of July weekend? Then make sure you plan ahead and get to your destination on time. Drivers can use the Washington State Department of Transportation’s traffic volume charts to “know before they go” and help time their travel on key routes.
Washington State Ferries travelers using the San Juan Islands; Sidney, British Columbia; or Port Townsend routes should check out the new reservation system for smoother holiday sailing. Reservations are strongly recommended during busy holiday weekends. Under the new system:
Welcoming the New M/V Samish to the San Juan Islands
UPDATE: Check out photos of the welcoming of the M/V Samish here...
06/11/15 Press Release: The San Juan County Council and the Town of Friday Harbor will be welcoming the M/V Samish on her official maiden voyage to the San Juan Islands. The welcome begins at 9:45 AM on Sunday, June 14th at the Friday Harbor ferry terminal.
Musical entertainment will be provided by the San Juan Jazz Quintet followed by a few words from Secretary of the Washington State Department of Transportation Lynn Peterson, Town of Friday Harbor Mayor Carrie Lacher and San Juan County Council Chair Bob Jarman.
Fire District #3 and the new fire boat Sentinel will provide an escort into the harbor. Come welcome the new ferry, watch the fire boat display its water cannons, and help kick off the Summer 2015 sailing schedule.
Washington State Ferries Ramps Up Summer Service
06/08/15 Press Release from The Washington State Ferries Summer 2015 sailing schedule takes effect Sunday, June 14, with highlights that include more sailings, a new Olympic Class vessel the M/V Samish, vehicle reservations to the San Juan Islands and increased service hours on many routes.
This summer, customers can get ahead of the weekend-getaway crowds by making a vehicle reservation to and from the San Juan Islands. WSF releases reservations two weeks before, and then two days before each sailing departs (PDF 354 kb). Reservations also are available on the Port Townsend/Coupeville route and for international sailings between Anacortes and Sidney, British Columbia.
Other changes to the summer 2015 sailing schedule: Anacortes/San Juan Islands: WSF added a fifth vessel, the new Olympic Class Samish, for more sailings. Changes to the schedule allow for better connections to Anacortes and Friday Harbor during commute hours. Anacortes/Sidney, B.C.: WSF added a second daily trip to the route. More here...
Take the Ferry Reservation System Survey
06/03/15: The Washington State Transportation Commission is asking members of the Ferry Riders Opinion Group (F.R.O.G.) to provide their views on the WSF reservation system. The results will provide valuable input that will help guide decision making at WSF on the reservation program. The results will also be shared with the Governor and the Legislature.
As a member of F.R.O.G, you get an opportunity to continually voice your opinions on important ferry issues. F.R.O.G provides an outlet where you can share your travel behaviors, opinions and preferences as well as provide feedback on a number of operational and pricing strategies that are or may be considered by the state.
It is your way to make your voice heard! Click here to join F.R.O.G.
Sen. Kevin Ranker Asks for Input on Ferry Reservation System
06/01/15 Press Release from Sen. Keven Ranker: Over the past several weeks, I’ve heard from many of you regarding your ideas, questions and concerns regarding the Washington State Ferries Reservation system.
I want you to know that I too have questions and share some of your concerns. While some of you have shared stories with me regarding significant benefits of the reservation system, others have expressed serious concerns stating that the reservation system has made it difficult for locals and businesses that rely on our ferries.
One thing is for sure, the implementation of the Reservation System is a work in progress and while I do not anticipate, nor do I support, the repeal of the system, there are likely to be changes made as we learn what works and what doesn’t.
In addition to receiving comments from dozens of individuals at my office in Olympia and on the island, I have held meetings with members of our lodging industry, construction industry, local ferry workers, chamber of commerce, visitor’s bureau and others. I have also met directly with State Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson.
These meetings have been productive and critical toward understanding all aspects of this issue. I have provided a letter to Secretary Peterson that lays out my preliminary recommendations to address some of the issues with the reservation system.
Your continued input is a crucial part of this process. Please contact me at my office at (360) 786-7678 or by email at Kevin.Ranker@leg.wa.gov so that I may hear what you think and what ideas you may have so that we can keep people and commerce moving.
Residents on San Juan Islands Frustrated by Ferry Reservation System
From KIROtv.com, by Graham Johnson: A number of San Juan County residents tell KIRO 7 they are unable to make trips that are not planned well in advance because of the system, in which up 90 percent of vehicle space is reservable ahead of time.
Most concerned are those who live on San Juan or Orcas Islands, where, save for the ten percent standby space, reservations are required both leaving the islands and Anacortes.
Rebecca Parks of Friday Harbor wrote to KIRO 7 saying she is "absolutely appalled and not a little frightened by this new system. I feel trapped here, and it's not a good feeling." Parks cited numerous examples of the inflexibility of the system for island residents when the boats are fully booked, from being unable to catch an earlier ferry home while visiting family off-island, or being unable to leave the island on a summer weekend to visit a friend in the hospital. Continued here...
Thanks to Chris Teren of Teren Photography for these photos taken at the Open House for the Samish ferry on Wednesday, May 20th at the Anacortes ferry terminal. Visit Washington State Ferries Blog for more info. Left: Inside the Samish during the ceremony. Right: Chris is standing next to his photo '50 Shades of Blue' displayed on the Samish. Click to enlarge. See more photos on Facebook.The brand new, 144-car Samish ferry will begin service on the Anacortes/San Juan Islands route Sunday, June 14, just in time for the start of the summer sailing season. The new ferry’s name comes from a tribal word meaning, “giving people.” It is the second of three funded, Olympic Class vessels to replace the aging, midcentury-era Evergreen State Class vessels.
Help welcome the second Olympic Class ferry, Samish, to the fleet at an open house and christening event on Wednesday, May 20 at the Anacortes ferry terminal. Drop by anytime between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to tour the vessel and enjoy complementary refreshments. At 1:30 p.m. there will be a ceremony by the Samish Nation and First Lady Trudi Inslee will christen the new ferry. Passengers arriving via ferry will be issued tickets for free walk-on return passage, valid for same day travel. Visit Washington State Ferries Blog for the latest event updates and information.
The brand new, 144-car Samish ferry will begin service on the Anacortes/San Juan Islands route Sunday, June 14, just in time for the start of the summer sailing season. The new ferry’s name comes from a tribal word meaning, “giving people.” It is the second of three funded, Olympic Class vessels to replace the aging, midcentury-era Evergreen State Class vessels.
Lopez Reservations Meeting, Tuesday May 19, 4-6pm
05/08/15 Press Release: The Ferry Advisory Committee and San Juan County Council invite the public to a Reservations "Town Hall" meeting on Lopez Island, Tuesday, May 19 from 4pm to 6pm at the Lopez Community Center.
WSF representatives will be on hand, along with FAC and County Council members, to present an update on reservations, answer questions, and listen to your experiences both good and bad. WSF and FAC are very interested to learn more about how the system is working for you, our local businesses, and our community.
Reservations, like most transportation options, are a compromise that attempt to balance the needs of a diverse group of ferry riders. For information on the years of development please see the WSF planning pages, here: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Ferries/Planning/VehicleReservations.htm.
And click here for more info on using the reservations system: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Ferries/TakeaFerry.
Welcome Aboard, Samish! New Olympic Class Ferry Joins WSF Fleet
04/10/15 Press Release from The brand new, 144-car Samish is set to officially take its place amid Washington state’s world-class ferry system. On Friday, April 10, Washington State Ferries accepted the Samish from builder/contractor Vigor Industrial. Following two months of sea trials and crew training, the new ferry will begin service on the Anacortes/San Juan Islands route Sunday, June 14, just in time for the start of the summer sailing season.
“I’m delighted to take delivery of the Samish,” said Ferries Assistant Secretary Lynne Griffith. “More than 23 million passengers rely on our ferry system every year. Adding another Olympic Class vessel represents the state’s continued commitment to replace older vessels and plan for the future.”
The public is invited to help welcome the new ferry as First Lady Trudi Inslee christens the vessel at an open house on Wednesday, May 20, at the Anacortes ferry terminal. Along with more space for tall vehicles, the $126 million Samish offers an ADA-compliant, car-deck restroom; flexible seating configurations; improved heating and ventilation; and wider stairwells and passageways.
“It’s been an honor for Vigor to partner with Washington State Ferries on this vessel, and the nine other ferries we’ve built to serve the people of Washington,” said Bryan Nichols, director of sales at Vigor Fab. “The Samish represents the very best in state-of-the-art ferry design and has helped strengthen the maritime community by supporting over 500 jobs throughout the Puget Sound."
The new ferry’s name comes from a tribal word meaning, “giving people.” It is the second of three funded, Olympic Class vessels to replace the aging, midcentury-era Evergreen State Class vessels. More information on the Samish and the Chimacum, the third Olympic Class ferry, under construction at Vigor Industrial in Seattle, is available online. Continued here...
and the Ferry Advisory Committee invite the public to an Reservations Outreach event for San Juan Island, Thursday April 9, 2015 from 5pm to 7pm, in the meeting room at the County Fire Station at 1011 Mullis St, Friday Harbor. WSF representatives will be on hand along with FAC and County Council members, to present an update on reservations, answer questions, and listen to your experiences both good and bad. WSF and FAC are very interested to learn more about how the system is working for you, our local businesses, and our community.
Spring into a New Sailing Schedule
03/13/15 Press Release from Plan ahead for the new spring 2015 sailing schedule and upcoming fare changes. The spring sailing schedule begins on Sunday, March 22, and annual peak-season fare surcharges go into effect May 1. The spring schedule includes the following changes:
Public Outreach Meeting to Discuss Ferry Reservation System
Press Release: On Friday, March 13th, 2015 from 4:00 – 6:00 pm, County Council member, Rick Hughes, along with members of the Ferry Advisory Committee will be holding a Public Outreach Meeting to discuss the Ferry Reservation System. The meeting will be held in the Lundeen Room of the Orcas Senior Center on Orcas Island. The purpose of the meeting is to provide community members the opportunity to share their thoughts as to what works well and what needs attention. Individuals are asked to share specific circumstances in an effort to identify issues.
Thousands of Ferry Riders Reserving Spots to San Juan Islands
02/25/15 Press Release from Passengers looking to secure a spot aboard Washington State Ferries vessels in 2015 are sailing to success using WSF’s new vehicle reservation program, launched earlier this year.
Between Jan. 5 and Feb. 22, about half of all drivers departing from Anacortes, Friday Harbor and Orcas Island took the guesswork out of the equation by traveling with a reservation. The numbers swelled during Presidents’ Day weekend, with 75 percent of San Juan Islands-bound travelers reserving their space in advance.
“Customers with reservations experienced much shorter wait times traveling to the San Juans during Presidents’ Day weekend this year than in previous years,” said WSF Vehicle Reservations Program Manager Brian Churchwell. “Reserving a spot in advance not only guarantees a space on the ferry, it will help reduce wait times during our busy spring and summer sailing seasons.”
WSF is making 90 percent of every sailing to the islands available for vehicle reservations. Reservations are released in three, 30 percent tiers to help meet both the needs of customers planning far in advance and those making travel plans closer to their sailing date. Some unreserved space is set aside for emergency vehicles, customers with medical priority loading, and standby customers. Reservations can be made up to three hours before the published sailing time.
“We’ve seen a remarkable level of customer participation during these first few weeks,” said Assistant Secretary Lynne Griffith. “I want to thank our customers for doing their part by helping us better utilize the limited sailings to and from the San Juan Islands.” Continued here..
Vehicle Reservations System Update
01/16/15 Press Release from It was a great first week for our vehicle reservations system on the Anacortes/San Juan Islands route - more than 5,000 reservations were made and 96.8 percent of these were redeemed! Thanks to our customers and employees alike for your contributions for a positive start to vehicle reservations in the islands. Please go online to save your spot for upcoming vehicle travel on the Anacortes/San Juan Islands, Anacortes/Sidney, BC and Port Townsend/Coupeville routes.
Gov. Inslee Proposes Free Ferry Rides for Electric Vehicles
Governor Inslee has released his proposed 2015-2017 budget, which includes a proposal to allow electric vehicles to travel for free on ferries and HOV lanes. The budget also includes funding for a new Olympic Class 144-car ferry.
From the HeraldNet: “Electric vehicles are here and they’re here to stay,” said Charles Knutson, the governor’s transportation adviser. “We want to see them … promoted in Washington state.” Giving drivers of electric vehicles a break on ferry fares and traveling in high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes are the ideas eliciting the sharpest rebukes from lawmakers of both parties.
“If a vehicle is driving on the ferry, regardless of how it is powered, it requires space,” said Rep. Norma Smith, R-Clinton. “Why would you exempt a vehicle because of its power source and require other Washingtonians to pay their bill? That’s not fair.” Leaders of the House and Senate transportation committees seem certain that particular proposal won’t be in any funding package embraced by the Legislature.
”“I don’t see where you get the votes for that,” said Rep. Judy Clibborn, D-Mercer Island, who chairs the House panel. “With all the different constituencies that you need to bring to the table to pass a package, this doesn’t bring a lot of people to the table.” More from HeraldNet...
Seasonal service adjustments and the start of vehicle reservations to the San Juan Islands usher in the 2015 Washington State Ferries winter sailing schedule beginning Sunday, Dec. 28. Highlights of the 2015 winter sailing schedule, in effect through March 21, include: Anacortes/Sidney, British Columbia; As with previous winters, service to Sidney, BC is suspended. Anacortes/San Juan Islands; As with previous winters, three vessels will operate on weekends. Four vessels will remain in service on weekdays. An additional Friday 2:35 p.m. sailing from Anacortes will serve Orcas Island. The Friday 4:50 p.m. sailing from Anacortes will only stop at Friday Harbor.
Vehicle reservations for Jan. 5 through Mar. 21 are now available on the San Juan Island routes. Currently, thirty percent of standard vehicle space is available to reserve on each sailing. An additional thirty percent of space will be available two weeks prior to each sailing, and the final thirty percent will be available 2 days prior to each sailing.Online reservations are available 24/7 at the Save a Spot website. WSF staff are currently available to assist customers by phone from 7:00 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. by calling 206-464-6400 or 1-888-808-7977. Save A Spot: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/reservations. For more information on reservations to the San Juans go to www.takeaferry.com.
Learn about Upcoming Vehicle Reservations on Nov. 15
11/13/14 Press Release: representatives will be at the San Juan Island Yacht Club (273 Front Street, Friday Harbor) on Sat., Nov. 15 to talk about the vehicle reservations system coming to the San Juan Islands. Join us at one of the following presentations, followed by Q&A: 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. Please note that each presentation will have identical information, so pick one and plan ahead for limited seating. You also may sign up for a reservation account at the meeting. For more information visit www.takeaferry.com.
Corrections to KING 5 Story Regarding Ferry Reservations
10/15/14 Press Release from San Juan Islands Ferry Group: KING 5 produced a story yesterday about the vehicle reservation that begins soon in the San Juan Islands. There are two errors that has asked the station to correct. We’re sharing them with you here in the hopes of avoiding confusion.
Here is the text of the corrections that were sent to KING 5: In addition to Anacortes-San Juan Island and Anacortes-Orcas Island, we also will offer reservations from Anacortes to Shaw and Lopez islands, just not from Shaw or Lopez to Anacortes. Also, I wanted to clarify our no-show policy. No-show fees only apply when reserved travel is not completed on the same day and terminal as booked.
It is true that customers have until 5 p.m. the day prior to reserved travel to cancel or change their reservation. However, if a customer arrives late and misses the sailing they have a reservation on, then they may use their reservation on a different sailing within the same service day from the same terminal without being charged a no-show fee. Read the story from KING 5 here.
New Ferry Vehicle Reservation System Website
Washington State Ferries has created an informational website called Save a Spot which is about the upcoming vehicle reservation system that is scheduled to begin January 5, 2015. The Save A Spot online reservation system will make it easy to book vehicle reservations to and from the San Juan Islands. Currently, reservations are offered on international sailings to Sidney, B.C., and on the Port Townsend/Coupeville route.
Starting December 2, 2014, vehicle reservations will be accepted for winter season travel to and from the San Juan Islands. Washington State Ferries will not charge a fee to make a reservation. However, a no-show fee may be charged when a reservation is booked, but not used. See more info at WSF Vehicle Reservation System FAQ for San Juan Islands Routes.
Fall Ferry Schedule Begins 9/21Washington State Ferries’ fall schedule begins Sunday Sept. 21, 2014. Please check the or pick up a purple schedule at the terminal or on the vessels. The new schedule has the typical reduction of five-boat service to four-boat service and only one daily international sailing to Sidney B.C. The peak season surcharge is in effect through Sept. 30. More on the WSF website.
Construction of Third Olympic Class Ferry Moves Forward
08/29/14: This week, The Washington Dept. of Transportation signed the Notice to Proceed document for construction of the third Olympic Class 144-car ferry. Work will begin late this year. Along with the Tokitae and Samish, this vessel will replace the 1950s-era Evergreen State Class ferries, which are approaching the end of their service lives.
The third, unnamed ferry will be constructed at Vigor Industrial by a consortium of Puget Sound shipbuilders and subcontractors and is expected to be complete in early 2017. You are invited to submit your ideas for the name of the newest ferry by Sept. 12 to the Washington State Transportation Commission.
WSF has a total budget of $383.6 million to build three 144-car ferries. The Tokitae, the first 144-car ferry cost $144 million. Samish, the second 144-car ferry cost is approximately $126.45 million. The lessons learned from construction of the first ferry, minimal engineering design, reduction in contingencies, and economies of scale reduce the cost of the second vessel.
Breakdown of the Elwha Causing More Ferry Woes
08/04/14 12:11pm UPDATE: The Elwha has been returned to service and is making the 11:55 a.m. run from Anacortes to Friday Harbor. Still a good idea to check the schedule and alerts if you plan to catch a ferry today.
08/04/14 11:00am: On Sunday night hundreds of passengers on the Elwha were forced to don life jackets and head to the center of the main cabin as a precaution when their ferry stopped during the scheduled 6:30pm sailing from Friday Harbor to Anacortes.
The trouble started when a drive motor went out causing visible smoke to emit from the engine room. The Elwha was able to travel to Anacortes at a reduced speed with the remaining drive motor. The Kaleetan was then used to complete Sunday night’s sailing schedule.
No one was injured in the incident, but the problem is causing delays and cancellations for the Ferry system Monday:
– The 6:25 a.m. sailing to Friday Harbor was cancelled
– The 8:05 a.m. sailing from Friday Harbor to Anacortes was cancelled
– The 9:35 a.m. departure from Anacortes to Lopez was canceled and the 10:45 a.m. departure from Lopez to Anacortes was canceled.
The vessel is now being thoroughly evaluated and repairs are being made as needed. The breakdown comes at the busiest time of year on the San Juan Island runs. The mechanical problems and sailing cancellations come less than a week after the ferry Tacoma lost power on the Seattle to Bainbridge Island run on Tuesday, causing major back-ups.
To see the latest on the ferry wait times visit http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/
Ana/Sidney International Ferry Departures Canceled
07/31/14: Washington State Ferries sent out a bulletin saying that all international departures from Anacortes, Friday Harbor and Sidney, B.C., will be canceled on Thursday, 7/31 and Friday, 8/1 due to vessel repositioning throughout the system. The affected westbound departures are Anacortes 8:25 a.m. and 2:50 p.m., and Friday Harbor 9:45 a.m. The affected eastbound departures are Sidney, B.C., 12:00 p.m. and 5:55 p.m., and Friday Harbor 7:25 p.m.
With passengers facing waits of up to 2 1/2 hours on the Edmonds-Kingston run, the interim head of Washington State Ferries said he'll move a ship from the San Juan Islands Thursday to help deal with service outages caused by what he calls an unprecedented "coincidence of events." MYNorthwest has more of the story here...
Evergreen Ferry Takes it's Last Trip
Thanks to Steve Marler, Proclamation of Appreciation. As the Evergreen left Friday Harbor it was escorted by San Juan Fire Rescue's fire boat Confidence and the USCG cutter Terrapin.for these photos taken Sunday, June 29th, 2014 of the Evergreen State leaving Friday Harbor for the last time with the 2:15 p.m. departure to Anacortes. The retiring ferry was sent off by dozens while County Council Chair Rick Hughes read a moving
Say Goodbye to the Evergreen State Ferry
On Sunday, June 29, the Evergreen State will make her last trips before being retired on June 30, 2014. Members of the community are welcome aboard the Evergreen State for her final two sailings in the San Juan Islands. The ferry’s last inter-island sailing leaves Friday Harbor at 11:35 a.m. with stops in Orcas, Shaw and Lopez before returning to Friday Harbor. Her final journey as the oldest member of the WSF fleet will be the 2:15 p.m. departure from Friday Harbor to Anacortes. Walk-on passengers ride for free on both sailings, standard fees apply for vehicles. Private boats are welcome to escort the Evergreen State from a safe following distance.
The Evergreen State Ferry was built in 1954 in Seattle taking only 11 months. When it entered into service, it was the largest, most modern ferry in the fleet at 310' long and holding 87 vehicles max. The ferry's open girder texas deck was rumored to have been accidentally installed upside down. The decision to plate over the deck in 1988 turned out to be problematic, making the Evergreen State top-heavy. To rectify the problem, WSF was forced to remove all "non-essential" weight, which meant creating a false ceiling in the passenger cabin.
CERTIFICATE OF APPRECIATION TO THE EVERGREEN
County Council Chair Rick Hughes will be reading the following proclamation at the Friday Harbor ferry terminal at approximately 2:00 PM on Sunday, June 29. The proclamation recognizes the service of the MV Evergreen State and her crew upon decommissioning of the vessel.
UPON: The retirement of the MV Evergreen State, San Juan County and the Town of Friday Harbor wishes to thank our local crews, captains, ferry staff, Washington State Ferries and the Washington State Department of Transportation for six decades of loyal service to our community. The Evergreen State brought generations of islanders to, and home safely from, the mainland and allowed us to share our beautiful islands with visitors from around the world.
WHEREAS: We meet today to commemorate Evergreen State’s last sailing on the waters of the Salish Sea and bid her “bon voyage”.
WHEREAS: The 87-car MV Evergreen State is the oldest and longest serving ferry in the Washington State Ferries fleet.
WHEREAS: The MV Evergreen State and its sister ferries enabled our county to expand our economic base and provide basic
transportation to Anacortes, Sidney, B.C. and between islands.
WHEREAS: We are privileged to join the Evergreen State along with the United States Coast Guard and escort her from Friday Harbor to Anacortes on this, her final passage.
NOW, THEREFORE, we, the San Juan County Council do hereby, and with deep appreciation, wish the MV Evergreen State and her dedicated crew fair winds and following seas.
Proclaimed this 29th day of June, 2014
Rick Hughes, Council Chair
SAN JUAN COUNTY, WASHINGTON
Thanks to Terry Cooter for this photo of the Evergreen State Ferry
WSF Community Meeting 6/25
Washington State Ferries is holding a community meeting from 11:30 a.m. -1:30 p.m. Wed., June 25 at San Juan County Council, 55 Second Street, Friday Harbor. Meeting will be streamed live from the San Juan County website. Questions will be taken via email by writing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Discussion topics include route-specific issues, liquefied natural gas, new vessel construction, and long-range planning. For more information, visit: SAN JUAN COUNTY WEBSITE: http://www.sanjuanco.com/council/video.aspx#mode.live and Community Meetings:
Paying for Roads and Ferries - Tell State Decision Makers What You Think
06/12/14 Press Release: The Washington State Transportation Commission (WSTC) has just released a new survey that will be used to guide state decision making on the future funding of our roads, bridges and ferries. We are at a critical cross road and these decisions will impact us all directly, so please take a minute to complete the survey here: Start Survey
The problem we face as a state: as vehicles become more fuel efficient or use alternative fuel sources, gas tax revenues for our roads, bridges and ferries declines – all while our transportation needs continue to grow across the state. There are no easy solutions, but one thing is clear: our continued reliance on the gas tax as our main source of funding for transportation needs is not sustainable long-term. Your input on this survey will help determine what kinds of potential changes will be considered and the impact those changes will have on your household.The survey takes about 10 minutes to complete. For your convenience, you may start/stop the survey and pick up where you left off whenever it is convenient for you. Your participation is greatly appreciated and valued!
Summer Ferry Schedule Begins Sunday
The summer sailing schedule begins this Sunday, June 15, and runs through Sept. 20, 2014. This means a return to summer service levels for the Fauntleroy/Vashon/Southworth, Mukilteo/Clinton and Anacortes/San Juan Islands routes. There will also now be two round trips to Sidney, B.C., through the summer season.
Travel tips: travel early in the day if possible, purchase your ticket in advance online to save time at the tollbooth, check online for terminal conditions, and expect longer lines headed westbound on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and eastbound on Sundays and Mondays.
Beginning 6/15 Customers Must Provide Wave2Go Tickets At Tollbooth
Press Release: ALL ROUTES: Beginning Sunday, June 15, passengers traveling on the Washington State Ferries must provide their Wave2Go ticket or a copy of their ticket for travel. Ticket Sellers will no longer enter the 18 digit ticket number for customers who do not have their ticket in-hand at the time of travel. Customers are reminded to plan ahead and have their ticket ready for scanning upon arrival at the ticket booth.
Open House for Candidates for Ferries Chief
06/06/14 Press Release from Jim Corenman, FAC Chair: Please join us on Monday, June 9, 2014 4-6 pm at the Friday Harbor House for an open house and an opportunity to meet the two final candidates for the position of ferries chief. This is one of only two such events being held, and is a huge honor and opportunity for our county. So please join us to meet the candidates and find out about their backgrounds and visions for the ferry system.
Here's the official announcement from WSDOT: Following a significant recruitment effort, the Washington State Department of Transportation has narrowed the pool of candidates for Assistant Secretary of Transportation, Ferries Division, to its top two candidates:
Captain George Capacci: Currently serving as interim Assistant Secretary, Capacci held the position of WSF deputy chief of Operations and Construction. He also served as vice president of Fleet Operations with the Alaska Marine Highway System and is a retired commissioned officer of the U.S. Coast Guard.
John Ladenburg: A practicing private attorney, Ladenburg has an extensive background in local and regional government including being elected as Pierce County Executive, Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney and to the Tacoma City Council. He has also served as chair of Sound Transit, president of Puget Sound Regional Council of Governments and president of Puget Sound Economic Development Board.
There will be two open house events for the candidates, the first in Friday Harbor:
When: 4 to 6 p.m., Monday, June 9
Where: Friday Harbor House, 130 West St. (corner of First St.), Friday Harbor
When: 7 to 8 p.m., Tuesday, June 10
Where: Norm Dicks Center, 345 6th St., Bremerton
After brief introductions from the meeting hosts, participants will have an opportunity to talk with the candidates. There will be no formal question and answer session.
Ferry Reservations Update
05/27/14 Press Release: WSF is on track to offer reservations for most of the San Juan Islands routes starting with the Winter 2015 schedule, starting December 28, 2014. The planning process started in late 2012 with the formation of a Reservations Partnership Group to work with ferries and develop a reservations program that might work for the San Juan Islands. The group consists of about 25 members including the FAC (Ferry Advisory Committee), representing all four ferry-served islands as well as various user groups and WSF management and project leaders and designers.
The goal is to make better use of available ferry resources, and to make traveling to and from the islands less frustrating and more predictable for everyone—locals and visitors alike. Currently the only way to be sure of getting onto a boat during the busiest periods is to show up at the terminal hours early. That gets tiresome, as does getting to the terminal at what you think is a reasonable time, and then having to wait three or four hours for the next boat. This is not a situation that makes a lot of folks happy. Imagine being able to reserve a spot, and even if you can’t get your first choice then at least you will have something to plan your day around. There is a reason that every other sizeable ferry system in the world provides reservations. But the San Juan Islands present some challenges.
The group has looked at a number of issues, starting with who can make reservations and when. Reservations for the popular sailings will fill up for the same reason that the boats overload now, because folks prefer the 8am sailing over the 5:50am redeye, and getting home (or to your hotel) at midnight isn’t as nice as getting there before supper. And we would all like to have priority, but since the ferries are run by the state there are some limitations.
One of the first decisions was that eastbound reservations would be provided only from Friday Harbor and Orcas, due to the greatest need and limited terminal space at Lopez and Shaw. Westbound reservations will be provided to all islands.
A key concept is a staggered release of space. Looking forward to next year, reservations for summer 2015 will become available in March—but only for part of the available space. This gives folks who are planning a trip a chance to book well ahead. Then one to two weeks prior another block of space becomes available, and then possibly more space a day or two ahead. The details of how much space for each release, and how early, are not yet final.
There will be no additional charge for reservations, but there will be a “no-show” fee. Changes can be freely made until the day of sailing (subject to space available), and one change is allowed on the day of sailing up until three hours prior, without any penalty.
Which brings us to two more important considerations: How much of the boat can be reserved, and how to manage traffic at the Anacortes terminal. The initial thinking was to leave lots of space unreserved for drive-ups, but that doesn’t change anything—folks without reservations would still need to show up hours early to get on the boat. The better answer is to make it easy to book a reservation. And that should also solve the traffic problem: If 300 cars aren’t showing up to get onto a 144-car ferry, then the terminal will be able to handle the traffic.
The good news is that the basic reservation system is already in place for the Coupville/Port Townsend and Sidney routes. Go to the ferries web page (www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries), click on “Reservations” (on the left), and click “Make a reservation” in the upper-right. Check it out. And folks without internet service can make a reservation via telephone, and customer service is being expanded.
A related element is getting information to ferry riders. From the ferries home page, click “Terminal Conditions” on the right and then “Anacortes”. This shows how much space is available on upcoming sailings, right now, today. Now go back and select Coupeville or Port Townsend. These terminals have reservations available and you can see how much space is available to be reserved, and how much remaining space is available for drive-up travelers without reservations. Signage will also be needed, that is still on ferries’ to-do list.
The motto of the Partnership Group has become “The devil is in the details”. The concepts look workable so far, but many details still need to be sorted and your FAC would very much like feedback and suggestions. The next partnership meeting is May 28, 11:30am at the Yacht Club. The public is welcome but there is only limited time for public comment, so please send comments via email to: email@example.com
Chair, San Juan County FAC
Thanks to Darryl West for the photo above
04/06/13 Press Release: The Washington State Transportation Commission has just launched a new survey to evaluate Washington State Ferries (WSF) Performance and we invite you and all members of the Ferry Riders Opinion Group (FROG) to complete it as soon as possible. The survey has been designed to address requirements in state law which WSF must report on to the Governor and Legislature – your input will go directly to state decision makers. The survey questions focus largely on your experiences and satisfaction using WSF during the current winter period.
Your participation in our FROG surveys has had a direct impact on decisions being made at the state level and are actively reviewed by law makers as they consider possible policy changes and funding approaches for WSF. Feel free to invite other ferry riders to share their opinions of WSF by having them sign up at http://ferryridersopiniongroup.com/ and they will also receive a link to the survey.
Spring Sailing Schedule Starts Sunday 4/6
03/28/14: Washington State Ferries customers are encouraged to plan ahead for the spring sailing schedule and upcoming fare changes. The spring sailing schedule begins on Sunday, April 6, and annual peak-season fare surcharges and new fare increases go into effect May 1. Changes to the spring sailing schedule include opening of the Sidney, B.C./Anacortes route with one round-trip per day and weekend inter-island service.
Customers can pick up the new schedule on board any ferry or at the terminal. Schedules are also available online and through the Washington State Department of Transportation’s iPhone and Android apps.
Ferry Alert: Kaleetan Replaces Evergreen State and Chelan Replaces the Hiyu 3/21
03/20/13: Good news! Beginning with the 6:20 a.m. sailing from Anacortes on Friday, March 21, the 144-vehicle will replace the 87-vehicle Evergreen State on the Anacortes/San Juan Island #3 schedule. Also, beginning with the 6:10 a.m. departure from Friday Harbor on Friday, March 21, the 124-vehicle Chelan will replace the 34-vehicle Hiyu on the interisland route. This is an increase of 90 vehicle spaces on the interisland route. For more info visit WSDOT at http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries
Ferry Alert: Ana/SJs: Update - Temporary Schedule Revisions Through Thursday, 3/20
03/17/13 Press Release: The 87-car Evergreen State will continue to sail in the #3 sailing position through approximately Thursday, March 20. The 34-car Hiyu will operate as the interisland vessel during this time. There is no passenger elevator on the Hiyu, but there is a portable restroom on the car deck. Because the E-State is slower than the schedule allows, the 9:25 am sailing from Anacortes to Lopez and the 10:20 am sailing from Lopez to Anacortes will be cancelled through Thursday in order to reset the schedule.
The Hyak’s 10:30 am eastbound sailing from Friday Harbor will make an unscheduled stop at Lopez Island at approximately 11:05 am. By mid-afternoon, the 144-car Yakima will replace the E-State, making the 2:10 pm sailing from Anacortes to Friday Harbor, the 5:20 pm sailing from Anacortes to Lopez and the 7:10 pm sailing from Anacortes to Shaw and Orcas.
Please visit the schedule page to view affected sailings: http://www.wsdot.com/ferries/schedule/ScheduleDetailByRoute.aspx?schedrouteid=1471
Ferry Alert: Temporary Schedule Revisions Beginning 3/13
03/12/13 Press Release: Ferry alert for Ana/SJ routes. On Thursday, March 13, the 87-car Evergreen State will replace the 124-car Chelan for approximately four days while the Chelan replaces another vessel in the fleet that requires mandatory dry-docking. The 34-car Hiyu will operate as the interisland vessel during this time. There is no passenger elevator on the Hiyu, but there is a portable restroom on the car deck. Because the E-State is slower than the schedule allows, the 9:25 am sailing from Anacortes to Lopez and the 10:20 am sailing from Lopez to Anacortes will be cancelled on Thursday and Friday in order to reset the schedule.On Thursday, the Elwha’s 10:30 am eastbound sailing from Friday Harbor will make an unscheduled stop at Lopez Island at approximately 11:05 am. By mid-afternoon, the 144-car Yakima will replace the E-State, making the 2:10 pm sailing from Anacortes to Friday Harbor, the 5:20 pm sailing from Anacortes to Lopez and the 7:10 pm sailing from Anacortes to Shaw and Orcas. On Friday, the E-State will make the 4:00 pm and 7:50 pm sailings from Anacortes. There are no planned cancellations for Saturday and Sunday; however, customers should expect some delays.
Help Needed for the Ferries
03/07/14 Update: The Senate passed SHB1129 today. This is the bill that funds building the third 144-car ferry. The vote count was 41 yeas, 8 nays.
03/05/14 Press Release from Friday Harbor Mayor, Carrie Lacher: I wanted to share with you the text of a letter I recently emailed to several State senators regarding ferry funding. The legislative session will be ending soon and funding for ferries is critical! I emailed the senators listed at the bottom of this email with the letter below. I encourage everyone who is interested in the vitality and sustainability of our Town and community to also contact these and other State senators and encourage them to supportin order to help fund our marine highway. Thanks, Carrie Lacher, Mayor
Dear Senator: As Mayor of a ferry-dependent community, I am asking for your support of SHB1129. The economy of Friday Harbor, San Juan Island depends on reliable ferries for tourism, laborers, students, and the very necessities of life.
The San Juan Islands are among the top 3 State tourism draws and therefore a top tax source. We’re currently experiencing our 4th week of ferry breakdown disruptions. In January, we had two of the four boats that serve the San Juan Islands out of service at the same time. In order to continue to draw visitors, we need appropriate funding to ensure reliable service and clean, dependable boats. As you may be aware, the average age of the fleet currently serving the San Juan Islands is 47 years.
The State legislature has mandated the implementation of a system-wide ferry reservations system. While there are many nuances still to be worked out, breakdowns will most certainly have severe negative impacts to a reservation system, especially when someone has made their reservation weeks or months in advance or has a medical issue. A reservation system requires reliable boats.
The 3rd Olympic Class boat, which needs to be built anyway, will cost 10-20% less if built now in sequence. Funding this planned boat at a later date will only result in additional, unnecessary costs.
In the interests of fiscal responsibility and the economic health and sustainability of our Town, County, and State, I urge you to vote “yes” on SHB1129.
Carrie Lacher, Mayor, Town of Friday Harbor
MV Chelan to the Rescue in the San Juan Islands
02/28/14 Press Release: WSDOT has been working day and night to determine the cause of Sealth’s recent mechanical issues since the vessel was removed from service on Feb. 12. Underwater video and sea trials suggest the problem could be with the rudder system beneath the vessel, requiring us to move the vessel to dry dock for further investigation. On Monday, the Sealth will be lifted out of the water and onto dry dock at Dakota Creek Industries in Anacortes for investigation and necessary repairs.
The 87-car Evergreen State is temporarily replacing the 90-car Sealth, and the 34-car Hiyu is serving the interisland route. We are in the process of moving other boats within the system and anticipate that the San Juan Islands/Anacortes route will be back to full service on Wednesday, March 5. At that time, the 124-car Chelan will be operating on domestic routes and the Evergreen State will be returning to the interisland route.
What’s Happening with the Sealth?
02/26/14 Press Release from Jim Corenman, Chair, San Juan County FAC: Most of us in the islands are concerned about the ongoing problems with the Sealth, one of our three mainland ferries, which is undergoing lengthy repairs in Anacortes. Understandably, cancellations and late sailings have given rise to a great deal of frustration. There is a tendency to blame Washington State Ferries for not solving the problems quicker, or at least providing another boat that could substitute for the Sealth in the meantime.
Each time Washington State Ferries visits the islands for their semiannual public meetings, we’ve heard David Moseley (Assistant Secretary and head of ferries) repeat the concern that ferries is not financially sustainable. What we may not have understood, until now, is that he was talking about exactly the situation we find ourselves in, with one boat out of service and no adequate replacements available.
FAC and ferries are very aware of the frustration stemming from the Sealth issue. We’ve been in contact with George Capacci (Deputy Chief and head of operations and capital) almost daily. Ferries is doing everything possible, the problem is that there aren’t a lot of options. We can rant all we want but that doesn’t get the boat fixed, nor get us a replacement that can keep up with the schedule.
The problem with the Sealth is a very infrequent steering failure at one end of the vessel. Tracking down the cause and fixing it has turned into a colossally frustrating exercise. The engineers and contractors have replaced all of the hydraulics and thought the problem was fixed, only to find that it failed once again during or after sea trials. They are now going through the electrical control system, part by part, testing and replacing. No one knows how long this will last.
It is important to understand that Ferries has only one spare boat, the 34-car Hiyu. It was brought up to replace the Evergreen State, which in turn has replaced the Sealth. So we have the full vessel complement for the current schedule, just smaller vessels and in one case slower. But that’s a whole lot better than being short a boat. The bulletins regarding reduced speed and delays have hopefully provided the opportunity to make adjustments. That was one thing we stressed to ferries: Keep folks informed.
Until the legislature is willing to establish sustainable operational and capital funding for ferries, this is likely to be a more frequent occurrence. David Moseley’s comments on funding are not empty words: The funds that the legislature has allocated since 2000 (when dedicated MVET ferry funds were lost) are not adequate to operate the system on an ongoing basis. Operating funds have to be “borrowed” from other WSDOT accounts, new boats are delayed, major maintenance is put off, and vessel life is stretched to 60 years (while no other similar system goes past 30 or 40 years). Kicking the can down the road is not sustainable funding.
Frustration is understandable, but what is needed is feedback towards the legislature. A comprehensive transportation package is needed, but off the table for now. Our Representative Jeff Morris has introduced a bill to fund a third new 144-car “Olympic Class” ferry (HB1129), if this can be passed it will have a direct benefit to our routes. The bill has passed the house and is pending before the Senate Transportation Committee. Our Senator Kevin Ranker supports this bill, urge him to help find votes. Talk to your friends across the mountains, ask then to press their senators to support ferries. We are all one state, and our ferries are not that much different than their rural highways, they all need public funding.
Click here to access Senate email addresses.
Click here for info on HB1129.
Jim Corenman, Chair, San Juan County FAC firstname.lastname@example.org
WA State Ferries Renamed after the Seahawks
01/31/14 Press Release: Passengers traveling on the Washington State Ferries Sunday, Feb. 2, will be boarding the “M/V Russell Wilson” or crossing Puget Sound on the “M/V Richard Sherman” as Gov. Jay Inslee has directed the vessels be named in honor of the Seattle Seahawks. “We couldn’t be more proud of our Seahawks as they represent our state in the Super Bowl,” said Inslee. “We’ve already raised the 12th Man flag on each ferry, and this honorary name change is one more way for us to show our appreciation."
The team has counted on a strong running game to carve out a path to victory. Now fans will be able to ride the “M/V Marshawn Lynch” and go #Beastmode roundtrip from the Kitsap Peninsula. “Although the name change is symbolic, we think it is a fun way to show our support and give fans a chance to cheer on the ‘Hawks before they pull into port,” said Assistant Transportation Secretary David Moseley.
The Washington State Department of Transportation recognizes the Seahawks achieved success this season by working as a team. WSDOT has 22 vessels in its fleet and has named each one after the Seahawks starting offense and defense team members. We wish the entire team good luck in their quest for a Super Bowl win.
List of Vessel Names:
M/V Cathlamet: “M/V Malcom Smith”
M/V Chelan: “M/V Zach Miller”
M/V Chetzemoka: “M/V J.R. Sweezy”
M/V Elwha: “M/V Chris Clemens"
M/V Evergreen State: “M/V Byron Maxwell”
M/V Hiyu: “M/V Breno Giacomini”
M/V Hyak: “M/V Kam Chancellor”
M/V Issaquah: “M/V Russell Okung”
M/V Kaleetan: “M/V Doug Baldwin”
M/V Kennewick: “M/V James Carpenter”
M/V Kitsap: “M/V Bobby Wagner”
M/V Kittitas: “M/V Tony McDaniel”
M/V Klahowya: “M/V Bruce Irvin”
M/V Puyallup: “M/V Marshawn Lynch”
M/V Salish: “M/V Max Unger”
M/V Sealth: “M/V Brandon Mebane”
M/V Spokane: “M/V Golden Tate”
M/V Tacoma: “M/V Russell Wilson”
M/V Tillikum: “M/V Michael Robinson”
M/V WallaWalla: “M/V Earl Thomas”
M/V Wenatchee: “M/V Richard Sherman”
M/V Yakima: “M/V Red Bryant”
Winter Ferry Schedule Starts Jan. 12
Washington State Ferries’ Winter schedule begins Sunday, January 12, 2014. Three vessels will operate on weekends between Anacortes and the San Juan Islands; that’s one fewer than in fall. As with previous winters, there will be no service to Sidney, B.C. Customers can pick up the new schedule on board any ferry or at the terminal. Schedules are also available online and through the Washington State Department of Transportation’s iPhone and Android apps.
New Anacortes Ferry Terminal Information Tool Launched
11/30/13: Washington State Ferries has just launched a new addition to the Vessel Watch system, it shows the vehicle spaces available at the Anacortes Ferry terminal for the day’s upcoming sailings. The capacity numbers update in real time, and the display is updated as often as every 15 seconds. The background color of the capacity number changes from green, to yellow, to red, as spaces are purchased.
Travelers can now tell exactly how many people have already purchased tickets for a particular sailing, and plan accordingly. Note that for shared boats, the number displayed reflects all vehicles that have purchased tickets for each sailing, so space is not guaranteed for your island if you show up close to the time at which the tickets for the boat have all been purchased. See the new tool in action here: Anacortes Terminal Conditions
WSF is One Step Closer to Liquefied Natural Gas Propulsion
11/20/13 Press Release: Official Proposal Submitted to U.S. Coast Guard. Washington State Ferries is another step closer to significantly reducing fuel costs and transportation emissions by switching a class of vessels from diesel fuel to liquefied natural gas.
After more than three years of study, WSF has a plan to safely convert six Issaquah Class vessels to run on cleaner-burning LNG. The proposal was officially submitted to the U.S. Coast Guard on Nov. 18 in a formal letter of intent (LOI) and waterways suitability assessment (WSA). The submission of the LOI and WSA marks the official starting point of the Coast Guard’s review process. WSF expects the Coast Guard to issue a finding regarding the LNG conversion proposal in 2014.
“Fuel is WSF’s fastest growing operating expense,” said David Moseley, assistant secretary for the Washington State Department of Transportation, Ferries Division. “Replacing diesel with LNG on the Issaquah Class ferries could result in very substantial savings on fuel over the remaining 30 years of their service life. This will also mean a cleaner, more efficient future for our fleet by significantly decreasing emissions.”
The average Issaquah Class vessel carries up to 124 cars and 1,200 passengers, serving on some of the state’s busiest ferry routes. Converting the fuel systems from ultra-low sulfur diesel to LNG would significantly reduce emissions according to WSDOT's Air Emissions Model, including:
For the proposed LNG conversions, WSF would install main propulsion engines to use natural gas and retrofit LNG fuel tanks on the top decks of the six vessels. The proposal calls for a phased approach for conversions to avoid schedule changes or delays. Once vessels are converted and back in service, they would begin a routine overnight, out-of-service refueling process similar to current diesel refueling.
Since 2010, WSF has been studying the benefits of alternative fuels and evaluating the feasibility and safety of using LNG to fuel its vessels. The process included the U.S. Coast Guard, multiple agencies at the state and local level, private industry organizations, the Washington State Joint Transportation Committee and consultants including Cedar River Group and Det Norske Veritas, the world’s leading authority on LNG-fueled passenger ferries.
WSF concluded its study process by issuing the final waterways suitability assessment, which includes a safety and security assessment and a risk-management plan. The study found that the LNG proposal is inherently safe with risks as low as reasonably practicable.
Use of LNG to power passenger ferries has been proven technically and operationally feasible worldwide for more than a decade, with Norway operating LNG-fueled passenger vessels since 2000. LNG is also fast becoming an efficient alternative fuel for buses and semi-trucks. Continued here...
Majority of Citizens Willing to Pay More for Transportation
11/15/13 Press Release from WA State Transportation Commission: The Washington State Transportation Commission has just completed a statewide survey of the Voice of Washington State (VOWS) survey panel that asked thousands of Washington state residents several questions on transportation, including how they feel about the transportation system, what their transportation investment priorities are, and if they think the state has enough revenue to meet future needs.
A resounding 86 percent of those surveyed think it is urgent to make sure Washington’s transportation system works effectively today and into the future, and 60 percent are willing to consider raising some transportation taxes and fees to ensure future transportation needs are met. Similar to a 2012 VOWS survey, preserving infrastructure, investing in transit and reducing congestion continue to be the top benefits residents must see to justify paying additional taxes.
The findings of the survey have been submitted to the Governor and the Legislature for their review as they consider a possible transportation revenue package aimed at meeting the growing needs of our state. Some of the key statewide findings from the survey include:
Investigation Finds Human Error in Hyak Collision
11/14/13 Press Release: A recent investigation concludes that human error was responsible for a collision Sept. 13 between Washington State Ferries vessel Hyak and a motor yacht. The incident happened at the confluence of Harney and Upright channels in the San Juan Islands, where the Hyak’s starboard bow collided with the port quarter of the yacht.
The sole occupant of the yacht Tasya was rescued by a nearby vessel and taken to Orcas Island. On the day of the incident, WSF convened a board of inquiry to investigate the collision. The board collected a wide array of data and information and spent more than 30 hours meeting to examine evidence and make its determination.
According to the report, investigators determined this incident was avoidable as the Hyak had adequate time, equipment capability and “sea room” to avoid the collision. Weather, visibility, tides and currents were not factors in this incident. The report states that the root cause of this incident was human error due to lack of situational awareness. “We conducted a thorough and detailed investigation into what happened and why,” said David Moseley, WSDOT assistant secretary, ferries division. “We’re now shifting our focus to making improvements to prevent future incidents.”
The report provides six recommendations for system-wide improvements that could help prevent similar incidents:
WSF is taking the necessary steps based on the investigative panel’s recommendations. The report has been referred to the director of operations as well as human resources for further review and consideration. More here...
10/06/13 Press Release: The State Legislature and Governor are faced with tough choices on how to address our growing transportation needs and keep our roads and bridges in good condition. Should taxes be raised? Should services be reduced? What does this mean for you and your community? Decision makers want to know where Washington State citizens stand on transportation issues, and that’s where you as a member of the Voice of Washington State (VOWS) survey panel can help.
In the coming weeks, the Washington State Transportation Commission (WSTC) will be sending you an on-line survey to find out where you think our transportation dollars should be invested and how we should generate the funds to address the backlog of needs. The results of this survey will be reported directly to the Governor and Legislature to inform their discussions and decisions this winter.
The VOWS survey panel already has 30,000 Washington State residents sharing their views on transportation. But the more participants, the better the data and the stronger the message is to our state’s decision makers. So help us spread the word. If you know of any neighbors or friends who would like to share their opinions or concerns about how to fund and improve Washington State’s transportation system – which includes our roads, public transit, ferry’s, rail, airports, bike paths and sidewalks - please forward this email to them.
All they need to do to receive the upcoming survey is to sign up for the Voice of Washington State survey panel at: www.VoiceOfWashingtonSurvey.
The VOWS survey program is Washington State government’s new, online public input program designed to gather the views of our residents and harness their collective voice in helping shape the future of our transportation system. Short surveys are sent to VOWS members, allowing all residents an opportunity to share their thoughts on all things transportation. The VOWS program has been featured in the Seattle Times, Spokesman Review, Yakima Herald, and numerous local papers as a way for citizens to give direct input to the state leaders on the tough issues facing our state.
Fall Ferry Schedule Begins Sunday 9/22
Washington State Ferries’ fall schedule begins Sunday Sept. 22, 2013. Please check the or pick up a schedule at the terminal or on the vessels. The new schedule has the typical reduction of five-boat service to four-boat service in the San Juans and only one daily international sailing to Sidney B.C.
Autumn also brings fare increases and policy changes that were adopted by the Washington State Transportation Commission on July 20, 2013. The new fares and policies taking effect on Oct. 1. More on the WSF website.
Changes to Ferry Fares Approved
OLYMPIA – New, across-the-board ferry-fare increases will go into effect this fall as a result of action taken by Washington State Transportation Commission following a final hearing July 30. The commission adopted the new fares to ensure the state meets the ferry-fare-revenue target set by the Legislature in the recently enacted 2013 - 2015 transportation budget.
The commission’s action is based on recommendations from Washington State Ferries, members of the citizen-based Ferry Advisory Committee on Tariffs, responses from public outreach meetings and email comments. Detailed information on the proposal, including fare tables, is available on the commission’s website: www.wstc.wa.gov. All proposed changes will take effect on Oct. 1, 2013, unless otherwise noted. Key elements of the proposal are:
Talk to Ferry System Leaders at June Community Meetings
05/29/13: With the 2013-2015 transportation budget signed, Washington State Ferries is gearing up to head out to ferry-served communities to discuss the implications of the budget, as well as new vessel construction progress, ferry system performance measures, liquefied natural gas as a source of fuel, and route-specific issues.
“I look forward to visiting the communities and hearing directly from our riders on the issues that affect their everyday travels,” said David Moseley, WSDOT assistant secretary, ferries division. “I always find this feedback valuable and it helps us when we consider making changes to the system.”
Eight meetings are scheduled during a two-week period in June: In the San Juan Islands a meeting will be 5-7 p.m. Wednesday, June 12 at the San Juan County Council Chambers, 55 Second St. (corner of Second and Reed streets) Friday Harbor meeting will be streamed live from the Orcas and Lopez libraries and on the San Juan County website. Viewers can submit questions to email@example.com. See more meetings here...
NW Ferry App Available
NW Ferry is an iOS app that provides detailed schedule, fares, terminal camera, vessel location and alert information for anyone planning a trip on the Washington State Ferry (WSF) system. Perfect for both tourists and commuters, this portable guide will empower iPhone and iPad users to navigate the Puget Sound with confidence.
Whether your destination is Seattle, Bainbridge, the San Juan Islands or somewhere in between, NW Ferry is a great option. It's available to download now on the App Store.
Ferry Fare Changes Begin May 1
04/25/13: Beginning Wednesday, May 1, 2013, through September 30, 2013, the peak season surcharge will go into effect for vehicles and drivers paying full fare. Multi-ride products will not be affected by this seasonal increase in fares. The seasonal surcharge helps pay for increased operational costs that come with increased traffic May through September. For details, visit http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/fares/.
Spring Ferry Schedule Starts Sunday March 24
WSDOT Ferries Division (WSF) will begin operating the Spring schedule beginning Sunday March 24th, 2013. The Anacortes/Sidney, B.C. route, with one daily round-trip sailing, and the weekend inter-island vessel in the San Juan Islands will resume. Reservations are now available for the Spring schedule. The schedule can be found at terminals, on vessels, and on the WSF website.
Save Our Ferries Video
02/22/13: This "Save Our Ferries" video concerns the invaluable Washington State Ferry system and the funding cuts that could prevent the WSF from functioning at the full and fluid operating level that area Washingtonians have come to expect.
FAC Comments on Ferry Staffing Plans
01/04/13 Press Release from San Juan County: The San Juan County Ferry Advisory Committee (FAC) is committed to keeping the County’s citizens in touch with financial, political and operational issues that affect the County’s primary lifeline to the mainland. On January 4, 2013, FAC chair Jim Corenman issued the following statement concerning staffing changes on state ferries and their effect on passenger capacity and the availability of ferry service:
As many are aware, there have been recent changes to the number of crew required to staff some of the ferries, which have increased operating costs. The latest chapter involves a provision by Coast Guard which allows alternate staffing levels for the Super class ferries (Elwha, Hyak, Kaleetan and Yakima), by reducing one deck crew if the upper passenger (galley) deck is closed and passengers are limited to 450, and by two deck crew if limited to 300. During the winter season, when the galleys are closed and passenger loads are light, this is a viable option for some routes to save some badly-needed operating funds. Continued here...
Winter Ferry Schedule Begins Dec. 30
The new winter Washington State Ferries schedule begins Sunday, Dec. 30. Please note that the International sailing to and from Sidney, British Columbia, does not sail on any day of the week during the winter schedule. Sidney service will resume on Sunday, March 24, 2013. Also, the Anacortes/San Juan route will operate on a regular Tuesday schedule on Christmas Day, Dec. 25, and on New Year’s Day, Jan 1. Check out the Winter Schedule here.
Two Important WSF Meetings in Friday Harbor
Washington State Ferries are hosting two very important meetings on Thursday, December 6 in Friday Harbor to discuss a variety of issues, including the upcoming legislative session, proposed service reductions on some routes, new ferry construction, and liquefied natural gas as a potential fuel for the fleet. Both are open public meetings. Those in attendance can ask questions and provide feedback. For more information, visit http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Ferries/commuterupdates/pub_meetings.htm.
The first is the second meeting of the San Juan Islands Partnership from 11:30am-2:00pm at the San Juan Island Yacht Club, 273 Front Street, Friday Harbor. Meeting materials may be accessed here. This is the committee exploring implementation of a vehicle reservation system in the San Juan Islands.The second meeting of the day is the regularly scheduled semi-annual WSF Community Meeting from 5:00 to 7:00pm also in Friday Harbor (San Juan County Council Chambers 55 Second St. (corner of Second and Reed streets). Meeting materials can be accessed here.
11/23/12: This January, the State Legislature and Governor will be faced with tough choices, should transportation taxes be raised or services be cut? To help decision-makers, the Washington State Transportation Commission (WSTC) asks that you Join the panel and you can share your opinions on specific transportation issues and ideas by responding to occasional online surveys that will be emailed to you.
Any Washington State resident can join the Survey Panel. There is no cost to join. The results will be reported directly to the Governor and Legislature at the start of the 2013 session. You can also share your thoughts and ideas by participating in our online discussion forums that will be going on across the state. You will be able to see all the ideas and comments that get posted by citizens and you can vote for or against them as well as post your own ideas for discussion and voting.
To join the online discussion forum please go to Voice Of Washington State and select the region you are interested in. Like the survey panel, all the ideas and discussions will be presented to the Governor and State Legislature so join the discussion and get your ideas out there and in front of our state’s decision makers. More at www.voiceofwashingtonsurvey.org
11/09/12: BAINBRIDGE ISLAND – A failure in one of the drive motors on the 188-car ferry, Walla Walla, has left parts of the ferry near the engine melted and charred, and the vessel is inoperable and out of service indefinitely. The incident happened while the vessel was in for routine, regularly scheduled maintenance work on Sunday, Nov. 4. This includes inspection of electrical drive motors, overhauling the boiler and pre-checks for U.S. Coast Guard annual inspections.
The Walla Walla will be out of service for at least the next few months while crews work to repair the vessel. The drive motor that was damaged is one of four motors that turn the propellers. (See photos here) Immediately following the incident, the Washington State Department of Transportation Ferries Division started an internal investigation per standard protocol. Preliminary findings indicate that there was no explosion.
“This is a serious incident and we’re going to do a very thorough and detailed investigation into what happened,” said David Moseley, WSDOT assistant secretary, ferries division. “We hope to return the vessel to service as soon as possible.
”Due to the severity of the damage, the investigation has been elevated to a third party contractor, Cadick Corporation. They will be assisted by WSDOT ferries division’s senior port engineers, safety systems managers, and electrical engineers. WSDOT has also reached out to the Department of Labor and Industries and the U.S. Coast Guard for assistance to ensure that all employee safety requirements were met. Detailed results of the investigation are expected within two to three weeks.Continued here...
WA State Ferry Community Meetings
10/31/12: Starting Nov. 7, Washington State Ferries will host a series of community meetings to discuss a variety of issues, including the upcoming legislative session, proposed service reductions on some routes, new ferry construction, and liquefied natural gas as a potential fuel for the fleet. During the meetings, Assistant Secretary David Moseley will give a brief presentation on system-wide and route-specific issues. Those in attendance can ask questions and provide feedback. For more information, visit http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Ferries/commuterupdates/pub_meetings.htm.
Meetings on San Juan Islands to be held Thursday, Dec. 6, 5-7pm at the San Juan County Council Chambers, 55 Second St. (corner of Second and Reed streets) Friday Harbor. Meeting will be streamed live from the Orcas and Lopez libraries and on the San Juan County website.
Orcas Terminal Re-Opened to Vehicle Traffic
Washington State Ferries closed the Orcas ferry terminal to all vehicle traffic after the last sailing on Monday, Oct. 22 until midday, Friday, Oct. 26, 2012. Walk-on passenger service was maintained. This closure was necessary to replace the terminals apron's hydraulic system, the apron's hinge system and the end floor beam of the transfer span girder. The apron is the last 15 feet of the bridge that moves up and down with the vessel as vehicles load and unload from the ferry.
Orcas Terminal Closed to Vehicle Traffic This Week
Washington State Ferries will close the Orcas ferry terminal to all vehicle traffic after the last sailing on Monday, Oct. 22 until midday, Friday, Oct. 26, 2012. Walk-on passenger service will be maintained. WSF will provide free parking spaces in the Anacortes terminal upper parking lot for Orcas drivers who are pre-authorized and have a dashboard permit; apply at the Orcas terminal now through Sept. 21.This closure is necessary to replace the terminals apron's hydraulic system, the apron's hinge system and the end floor beam of the transfer span girder. The apron is the last 15 feet of the bridge that moves up and down with the vessel as vehicles load and unload from the ferry. For more information, visit Orcas Transfer Span Repairs.
10/18/12: The final Washington Governor’s gubernatorial debate that was held on Tuesday, Oct. 16 included two specific questions regarding reforming the Washington State Ferry system. One of the questions was "What would your administration do to fund the ferry system?"
Washington ferries are “roads” connecting communities and are a critical part of the transportation network. You can read the transcript from the link below. (Via Tom Cowan, Transportation Commission member.) Transcript: Washington Gubernatorial Candidates Talk Reforming Ferries
Fall Ferry Schedule Begins 9/23
Washington State Ferries’ fall schedule begins Sunday Sept. 23, 2012. Please check the schedule on line or pick up a purple schedule at the terminal or on the vessels. The new schedule has the typical reduction of five-boat service to four-boat service and only one daily international sailing to Sidney B.C. The peak season surcharge is in effect through Sept. 30. More on the WSF website.
Plan Now for 3.5 Day Orcas Terminal Vehicular Closure
Washington State Ferries will close the Orcas ferry terminal to all vehicle traffic after the last sailing on Monday, Oct. 22 until midday, Friday, Oct. 26, 2012. Walk-on passenger service will be maintained. WSF will provide free parking spaces in the Anacortes terminal upper parking lot for Orcas drivers who are pre-authorized and have a dashboard permit; apply at the Orcas terminal now through Sept. 21.
This closure is necessary to replace the terminals apron's hydraulic system, the apron's hinge system and the end floor beam of the transfer span girder. The apron is the last 15 feet of the bridge that moves up and down with the vessel as vehicles load and unload from the ferry. This project will require a closure of the terminal to vehicle traffic while the apron is removed and the necessary modifications are made. For more information, visit Orcas Transfer Span Repairs.
09/04/12: In early August Washington State Ferries asked for residents who would be interested in serving on a committee to assist with planning a vehicle reservation system for the San Juan Islands routes. Members will meet approximately every six weeks for up to 1½ years to establish the reservation plan. The list of committee members has been released and is below. No initial meeting date has been announced yet. These meetings are public and all residents are invited to attend.
Ferry Reservation Committee members are: Anacortes: Mark Lione. Lopez: Kathy Booth, Cass Clark, Susan Young, Ken Burtness, Jamie Stephens, John Whetten, Clark Johnson. Orcas: Mike Aley, Lance Evans, Tony Ghazel, Wally Gudgell, John McLeod, John Poletti, Margot Shaw, Mike Stolmeier, Larry Vandermay. San Juan: Carol Anderson, Deborah Hopkins, David Dubbell, Pat McKay, Terresa Sundstrom, Sally Thomsen, Jim Corenman, John Ness, Howie Rosenfeld. Shaw: John Brantigan. Mount Vernon: William Pike.
08/06/12 SJC News Release: As David Moseley (Assistant Secretary for WSDOT and executive of the ferry system) announced at the June 7 WSF Public Meetings on the inter-island ferry and in Friday Harbor, WSF will be establishing a Community Partnership Group to assist with planning for a vehicle reservations system for the San Juan Islands routes.
The group will consist of approximately 20 members from all four ferry-served islands and will begin meeting this fall. It will meet approximately every six weeks for up to 1½ years to establish the reservation plan for the San Juans. Meeting schedules and locations are not yet set, but will likely alternate between in-person and online meetings.
“I look forward to beginning this very important process with our customers in the San Juan Islands,” said Assistant Secretary David Moseley, “We have engaged this community partnership process on two routes in the system to great success. This process has been essential to understanding the unique needs of our customers, and to exploring ways to meet these needs. Please join me in partnership as we explore this possibility together.”
WSF will make the final group selection and has asked the San Juan County Ferry Advisory Committee (FAC) to solicit interest and make recommendations. WSF and FAC are looking for participants who will commit to the meeting schedule, and who represent an important user group. Specifically, WSF is seeking customers who routinely use the system, including representation from residents, frequent riders, ferry-dependent businesses, the hospitality industry, etc. Key requirements include willingness to: Continued here...
New Federal Funding for Wa. St. Ferries
07/18/12: In his weekly update published July 13, WSDOT Ferries Division Assistant Secretary David Moseley discussed recent Federal funds awarded to Washington ferries. He wrote: Last week the U.S. Congress passed a federal transportation bill that will provide approximately $40 million for WSF over the next two years. This new source of funding will be a tremendous benefit to the ferry system. The average age of Washington’s ferries is significantly older than other major U.S. ferry systems, making our maintenance and infrastructure replacement costs higher.
Funding will be used to renovate, replace and/or upgrade vessel components and systems including steel structures, interior spaces, piping, propulsion, major mechanical/electrical, communication/navigation/lifesaving and security equipment. Specific upcoming tasks which this project may cover include hull and topside paint and restoration of sea valves and propulsion systems.
These funds will also help support WSF’s ongoing efforts to retrofit and improve vessels for greater fuel economy, making our ferry system more efficient and better able to deal with rising fuel costs, which have added substantially to our operating budget. The funding will also help pay for the Southworth Timber Trestle & Terminal Replacement Project, currently scheduled for construction in 2015-2018, and for propulsion system and navigation equipment for the new Olympic Class (144-car) ferries. More here...
San Juan's Tom Cowan Elected Vice-chair of WSTC
Members of the Washington State Transportation Commission (WSTC) annually elect a chair and vice-chair. In the most recent elections, Dan O’Neal of Mason County was chosen to serve as chair and, who lives in the San Juan Islands, will serve as vice-chair. Good news for ferry-served communities!
Cowan has been a member of the Transportation Commission since 2011. A public policy consultant and manager of marine resources restoration projects, Cowan was formerly the director of the congressionally authorized Northwest Straits Commission and a former assistant director for the Puget Sound Action Team. He was a San Juan County Commissioner for 12 years and served as president of the Washington State Association of Counties. Cowan is currently chair of the San Juan County Land Bank and a board member of the SeaDoc Society. He leads the commission team examining the feasibility of transitioning from the gas tax to a road user charge as a major funding source for transportation.
The Washington State Transportation Commission is an independent state agency that provides a public forum for transportation policy development. It reviews and evaluates how the entire transportation system works across the state and issues the state’s 20-year Transportation Plan. As the state tolling authority, the commission sets tolls for state highways and bridges and fares for Washington State Ferries. Continued here...
06/29/12 News Release: – U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) Subcommittee announced she has included up to $20 million annually in Federal highway funds for Washington State Ferries (WSF) after House and Senate leaders arrived at a bipartisan compromise to continue funding transportation projects through September 31, 2014. Overall, the bill will provide over $1.7 billion over two years for critical infrastructure projects in Washington state, creating and preserving good paying jobs while providing certainty to Washington State DOT and transportation agencies throughout Washington state. The bill passed the Senate June 29th, 2012 by a vote of 74-19, after passing the House 373-52, and will now go to the President for his signature.
Senator Murray fought to include dedicated highway funding paid out of the Highway Trust Fund for our nation’s ferry system in the compromise transportation reauthorization bill. The final bill will include $67 million for ferry systems nationwide. These funds will be distributed by formula, and of that total, up to $20 million would be for WSF annually.
This is a major victory for Washington state, as it preserves a dedicated funding source for ferries from the Federal Highway Administration. A major focus of the transportation reauthorization bill was consolidation and elimination of programs. Over two-thirds of the highway programs were consolidated, and dozens were eliminated. Retaining a dedicated funding source for ferries ensures critical federal investments in this mode of transportation will continue. Continued here...
WSF Commemorative Magazine Caps off 60-year Celebration
Passengers aboard Washington State Ferries will find a new, limited-edition magazine, Compass, commemorating the end of the ferry system's 60th anniversary. The keepsake publication, arriving just in time for the busy summer season, is packed with information about ferry-served destinations that will interest both tourists and locals alike, as well as some historical and insider information about the nation's largest ferry system. The magazine is free to the public and was produced at no cost to Washington State Ferries.
WSF cooperated with maritime industry publisher Philips Publishing Group to develop and create this publication as a final send-off to the year-long celebration of the state's first ferry run on June 1, 1951. The magazine also includes a brief history of the system, interviews with a captain on the state’s busiest route and the only female staff chief engineer in WSF’s history, a feature on WSF’s proud achievements in marine rescues, maps, photos and more. It is available at all WSF terminals and vessels. Washington State Ferries is the largest ferry system in the U.S., serving more than 22 million passengers each year aboard 22 ferries on 10 routes.
Washington State Transportation Commission News release: The Washington State Transportation Commission (WSTC) launched the Voice of Washington State (VOWS) statewide public engagement program, which includes seven regional online discussion forums and an online survey panel on June 28th, 2012. The WSTC is asking state residents to log on to www.voiceofwashingtonstate.org to sign up and share input on how to improve the state’s transportation system. Individuals can join the VOWS Online Discussion Forums and publicly voice their opinions, post ideas and interact with other citizens in their community. They can also join the VOWS Survey Panel to participate in occasional online surveys.
The Commission is using the new online forum technology to empower citizens to become thought-leaders on transportation. The ultimate goal is to gather public input on Washington state transportation policy and funding, and to inform the statewide discussion and decision-making process. Topics for discussion will focus on all things transportation: highways, mass transit, freight and high-speed rail, ferries, barges and aviation. The governor and Legislature will be briefed on the ideas and data generated through the online discussion forums and surveys. Continued here...
Ferry Fares Increase May 1st
Fares will be increasing on May 1st, 2012. Last August he Transportation Commission approved an across-the-board 3% increase to help cover operating costs and meet revenue targets. The state transportation budget requires WSF to meet an overall revenue target of $310 million that must be collected from ferry fares between July 1, 2011, and June 30, 2013.
This increase applies to all fare types, including vehicle/driver, walk-on, and multi-ride cards. In addition, because it is peak season, single-ticket prices in the San Juan Islands will increase by 35% until fall. If you drive a car shorter than 14 feet, you get a bit of a break though. See Eligible Vehicles here. Although your tickets will still be subject to the 3% fare increase and peak season surcharge, you’ll pay 20% less than drivers of standard-sized vehicles. For more information, visit the WSDOT website.
03/31/12: If your car falls into the 14' or shorter category, you can get a special windshield sticker from Washington State Ferries to verify it's eligible for the shorter vehicle fare. Discounted vehicle fares are based on a vehicle's length, height, and width, as well as the distance you will be traveling on board the ferry. See Eligible Vehicles here. Ferry terminals also now have laser measuring devices to confirm vehicle lengths.
To have a vehicle measured and get a sticker, ferry riders should make an appointment or arrive 30 minutes before their desired sailing. This fare change will be phased in over three years, it started with the fare set at 90 percent of the standard vehicle fare on October 1, 2011, and then set at 80 percent of the standard vehicle fare on May 1, 2012, and finally set at 70 percent of the standard vehicle fare in 2013 (phase three subject to future Commission approval).
Tom Cowan Speaking about Ferry System
Tom Cowan, Lopez Island resident and member of the State Transportation Commission will be speaking on Monday, Feb. 13th in Friday Harbor at The San Juan Island library @ 12pm. This public event is sponsored by the League of Women Voters. The LWV invites members and the public to learn about budget and infrastructure issues affecting Washington State Ferries.Cowan was appointed by Governor Christine Gregoire to a six-year term on the State Transportation commission. He is chair of the county Land Bank Commission and was a county Commissioner.
Yakima Ferry Returns to Service
01/13/12: Good news! Eagle Harbor was able to repair the Yakima earlier than originally expected. The 144 car Yakima has replaced the 89-car Evergreen State. The Evergreen State has replaced the Chetzemoka as the Interisland vessel. More at the WSF website.
Oil Refinery Fee Would Aid Roads, Ferries
01/14/12 from The Olympian, writer Jordan Schrader: Gov. Chris Gregoire asked state lawmakers Jan. 10th to tap the oil industry for the money to keep ferries running and roads in good repair.
In the last of her annual speeches to the Legislature, Gregoire also drew attention to bottlenecks that need “serious attention,” such as like the freight route from the Port of Tacoma and the Interstate 5 section near Joint Base Lewis-McChord – but she didn’t say how to pay for them. “We’re better than the other guys. If we aren’t, our businesses and our workers are going to go elsewhere,” Gregoire said in calling attention to impending shortfalls in the money to pay for highways, buses and ferries. “Let’s build a better transportation system than the other guys.”
But building isn’t the focus of the proposal Gregoire outlined Tuesday. Instead, a $1.50-per-barrel charge on refineries in Tacoma and northwest Washington and some smaller fee increases would raise $3.6 billion over 10 years for operations and maintenance. It would be a patch intended to fund the basics, not an expansion – much like the proposed half-cent sales-tax increase for the main budget that Gregoire also plugged in her State of the State speech.
The transportation package hinges on $2.75 billion in revenue from oil intended for cars, boats and planes or for asphalt. But the oil industry is sure to line up its formidable lobbying muscle. Its members argue the Legislature would be indirectly raising drivers’ costs at the pump because companies would pass much of the cost to their customers. Continued here..
Yakima Out of Service For Repairs
01/09/12: Due to necessary repairs on the Yakima, the Evergreen State will begin operating as a mainland vessel (instead of the inter-island vessel) until further notice. As there is no weekend inter-island service in the Winter schedule, the 64 car Chetzemoka will begin operating the inter-island schedule on Monday. The Evergreen State, Elwha and Sealth will operate mainland service until further notice.
The 87-car Evergreen State is a smaller and slower vessel than the 144-car Yakima, customers can expect delays until the Yakima returns to service. This will affect the following sailings from Anacortes: 7:40 a.m. to Shaw and Orcas and the 10:20 am sailing to Lopez and Friday Harbor. The Evergreen State will also be delayed from Friday Harbor at 5:55 am and 12:10 p.m.; from Orcas at 8:55 a.m.; from Shaw at 9:10 a.m. and from Lopez at 6:40 a.m. and 12:55 p.m. More at the WSF website.
11/18/11 Via the Times-Colonist: Sidney council has approved a lease agreement of up to 20 years with Washington State Ferries to operate the municipality's terminal and share capital costs. "It's a statement of a long-term commitment between ourselves and Washington State Ferries, so we are excited by it," Sidney Mayor Larry Cross said Thursday. "It really helps us in long-term planning in terms of tourism."
The agreement was passed by council at a meeting this week. Cross said the document has been vetted and approved by the U.S. ferry system, which runs a service between Sidney and Anacortes, Wash. "It is just going for the final signature from the head of the corporation," said Cross, adding he expects the agreement to be signed by U.S. officials today.
The lease allows for renewals in five-year increments and includes a termination clause, he said Sidney will also be able to allow another user at the terminal, provided there is no competition with the Anacortes service, Cross said.
A key benefit will see capital costs shared for the Sidney-owned terminal. Currently, the municipality is 100 per cent responsible, but that will change under the new deal, Cross said. Washington State Ferries will be paying rent and taxes as well. Details were not immediately available on Thursday evening. Continued here...
10/27/11 Story from Crosscut.com: A recent disruption in ferry service to the San Juan Islands illuminated just how close Washington's ferry system is to the edge. Can a new government task force resuscitate the struggling system?
The San Juans' service is one of ten WSF-operated routes in the Puget Sound region. The ferry system lost a major source of funding in 1999, when voters approved a referendum that killed the motor vehicle excise tax, and investments in new boats have been minimal, leading to predictions of cascading misfortunes if too many of the aging vessels act up at the same time. This month WSF and its patrons got a taste of how such a crisis might unfold. The San Juan ferries kept running, after a fashion, but that doesn't mean that the next concatenation of mishaps will pass by as harmlessly. Continued here...
09/28/11: Governor Gregoire has formed and charged the Connecting Washington Task Force with reviewing statewide transportation needs, recommending the most promising investment options and revenue sources to address top priorities.
The focus of the next Connecting WA Task Force meeting will be tourism and transportation. The meeting is October 4th in Olympia and San Juan Island residents might want to attend to testify about tourism, our local economy, and how we are impacted by the ferry system. Your suggestions and ideas are important. You can also use this website form to provide them to the task force. If your livelihood relies on tourism, or whose business is impacted by changes in service and fare hikes, please take the time to speak up now. Decisions made by this task force could impact you for years to come. More here...
Friday Harbor Ferry Terminal Gets Grant
Press Release from WSDOT: The Friday Harbor ferry terminal will get a safety upgrade thanks to a $240,000 grant from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The Washington State Department of Transportation Ferries Division (WSF) will use the funding to build a barrier and gate to keep walk-on customers separated from vehicle traffic during ferry loading and off-loading. The project will also include signs to direct foot passengers to the terminal exit, town landmarks, and pick-up/drop-off areas.
“Safety is our top priority, and we welcome the chance to improve the service we provide to our customers at the Friday Harbor terminal,” said David Moseley, assistant secretary for WSF.
Nearly 200,000 walk-on passengers passed through the Friday Harbor terminal last year. Separating walk-on passengers and vehicle traffic will improve safety and traffic flow for both groups of ferry customers, and improved signage will help walk-on passengers more easily make their way from the ferry into town.
WSF applied for the grant funding from FHWA’s Ferry Boat Discretionary Funding Program. Project design will get under way as early as next month. Construction is scheduled to begin in late 2012 with completion in mid- to late 2013. Continued here...
New Transportation Task Force Wants Input
Effective ferry transportation is critical to maintaining San Juan County's economy, environment and quality of life. However, funding for Washington’s transportation system is insufficient. Over the next three months Gov. Chris Gregoire will be chairing a group of 27 Washingtonians called the Connecting Washington Task Force who are charged with developing a 10-year investing and funding plan for the state’s transportation system and presenting it to the 2012 Legislature. The Connecting Washington Task Force will review statewide transportation needs, recommend the most promising projects for investment and identify potential revenue sources for the state's transportation system through 2022.
Washington state residents interested in providing input to the task force can submit suggestions and feedback here. Please take the time to express your thoughts. To read more about this group, click here for an article from LandLinemag.com. and see more below.
Members of Connecting WA Task Force Announced
Press Release: Gov. Chris Gregoire announced on July 5th the members of the “Connecting Washington Task Force,” who are charged with developing a 10-year investing and funding plan for the state’s transportation system and presenting it to the 2012 Legislature. The Connecting Washington Task Force will review statewide transportation needs, recommend the most promising projects for investment and identify potential revenue sources.
“The demands on transit, roads and ferries will grow as our population grows and as businesses climb out of this recession,” Gregoire said. “Major transportation projects must be built, our ferry system must be preserved for future generations and the current transportation system must be maintained. Connecting Washington will give the Legislature options to improve and maintain our transportation system and help keep our communities and businesses moving"
Connecting Washington’s members will consist of locally elected officials and representatives from tribes, organized labor, trade associations and businesses, along with transit, consumer and environmental advocates. It will also include the chairs and ranking minority members of the House and Senate Transportation Committees, the Secretary of Transportation and Chair of the State Transportation Commission. Gregoire will chair the group and help lead its meetings, which will begin this month and occur periodically throughout the summer and fall.
The 2003 and 2005 revenue packages have funded hundreds of transportation projects across the state – the vast majority of which will be under contract or completed by the 2011–13 biennium’s end. To date, more than 90 percent of these projects have been completed on time and 92 percent on or under budget. But after the 2013–15 biennium, more than 90 percent of the two transportation packages’ proceeds will cover debt service. The transportation system continues to have additional needs.
Additional resources are necessary to finish major projects, like replacing the State Route 520 bridge and Interstate 5 Columbia River Crossing and building the North Spokane corridor. With no money left to transfer into the ferry system from other transportation accounts, more resources are necessary to fill the system’s 10-year, $1 billion budget hole and to cover the cost to replace the aging fleet. As city and county populations continue to increase, more mass transit will be necessary to accommodate additional riders and to expand routes. And additional resources will be necessary to maintain current state and local highways, roads and bridges.
The following individuals will serve on Connecting Washington... Continued here...
(02/01/11) Liz Illg, former Friday Harbor Town Council member, and Deborah Hopkins, Executive Director of the San Juan Islands Visitors Center sent the following note and link to a video that was created a couple of years ago as a message to Governor Gregoire from the residents of San Juan County. Please take a few minutes to watch the video and share the link with others.
Ferry Service Video from At Home Magazine:
Regarding the ferry service and concerns of our residents about what might happen in the future, we’re enclosing a link to a public service video we made two years ago. The concerns we had then are the same now.
The only information that might be dated is the amount of money brought by tourists.