Check out the Ferry Schedule 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...
Summer Ferry Schedule Starts June 17th
Washington State Ferries begins its Summer Sailing Schedule Sunday, June 17th 2012, with increased service on popular tourist routes and a new and enhanced vehicle reservation system called Save a Spot. This reservation system will be available to all customers on the Port Townsend/Coupeville and Anacortes/Sidney, B.C. routes. It will also be available to business (commercial) account customers on San Juan Islands routes.Washington State Ferry Customer Service staff is available at firstname.lastname@example.org or 888-808-7977 from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. to answer questions and help you make, change, and cancel reservations. The new ferry schedule can be found at terminals, on vessels, and on the WSF website.
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).
WSDOT Ferries Division (WSF) will begin operating The schedule can be found at terminals, on vessels, and on the WSF website.
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.
01/03/12: WSDOT Ferries Division (WSF) began operating its Winter 2012 schedule on Sunday, Jan. 1, 2012. The schedule can be found at terminals, on vessels, and on the WSF website. This season there are fewer weekend sailings on the Fauntleroy/Vashon/Southworth route, and in the San Juan Islands, no inter-island boat on Saturday and Sunday plus reduced sailings Monday through Thursday afternoons. WSF does not provide international service to British Columbia during the Winter. Service will resume to Sidney, B.C. March 25.
Holiday and Winter Ferry Schedule
12/11/11: WSF recently posted a press release about schedule changes during the holidays and the fact that the Winter schedule goes into effect on January 1, 2012. There are no planned schedule changes for the San Juan Islands routes through December 31, 2011. All routes will switch over to the Winter Sailing Schedule on Sunday, Jan. 1.
The winter schedule notes annual service reductions, which WSF makes to match the reduced seasonal demand. Changes include: NO inter-island vessel on the weekends in the San Juan Islands and NO service between Anacortes and Sidney, B.C. San Juan Islands.
Customers should pay particular attention to the winter 2012 sailing schedule. Although it is similar to the winter 2011 schedule, WSF has made minor sailing time adjustments to improve reliability. Details are available on WSF’s schedule proposals page.
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...
Brand New Ferry Chetzemoka Filling In
10/11/11: Lots of ferry changes lately...Inter-Island service is being provided by the 64-car Chetzemoka, the first new ferry the state has built in more than a decade. The $78 million ferry, built in 2010 is usually in service on the Coupeville-to-Port Townsend route. The Chetzemoma will be filling in for the Hiyu, which was filling in for the Evergreen State, which is now filling in for the 144-car Yakima while it is being repaired.
Yakima Taken Out of Service for Repairs
10/08/11: The Washington State Ferry system says riders in the San Juan Islands can expect delays through the weekend and into next week while a ferry is out for repair. The Yakima was taken out of service Friday because of abnormal wear on a propulsion shaft bearing. The ferry system is shifting some vessels but they will not be able to carry as many vehicles on the route between Anacortes and the islands.
Beginning today, WSF will return to its normal schedule but with less capacity. The 34-car Hiyu will replace the 87-car Evergreen State as the interisland vessel. The Evergreen State will replace the 144-car Yakima. Customers can expect some delays and reduced capacity from Anacortes, especially on the 10:35 a.m. sailing from Anacortes to Lopez, Shaw and Orcas. Please plan to travel earlier or later if possible. More 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...
09/20/11: The New Fall sailing schedule starts Sunday, Sept. 25th. That means fewer ferries or sailings on some routes to match the reduced demand in Fall. For example, the Anacortes/Sidney, B.C., route will go from two trips a day to one, and four vessels will serve the San Juan Islands instead of the Summer’s five.
New ferry fares will go into effect Saturday, Oct. 1st. The changes to be implemented include: general fare increase of 2.5 percent, new fare category for vehicles less than 14 feet long, elimination of bicycle permits, and per-ticket surcharge of 25 cents to help fund new vessel construction. See the Fall schedule 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...
Input Wanted on Fall Ferry Schedule
06/29/11 Press Release: San Juan County Ferry Advisory Committee (FAC) and Washington State Ferries (WSF) have begun reviewing the ferry schedule for this fall, and are seeking public comment through July 8. The proposed schedule is basically the same as the just-completed spring schedule and last fall's schedule, with some small adjustments in sailing times to relieve congestion, and some changes in vessel assignments.
Each schedule has its particular challenges. The spring and fall schedules represent the "shoulder seasons" for visitors, with traffic varying quite a bit between the beginning and end of the schedules. The reduced traffic is also the opportunity for rotating vessels into the shipyards for needed service. The smaller 96-car Sealth will again serve the islands in place of a 148-car Super, but not until the latter part of the fall schedule when traffic is lower.
The FAC and WSF would very much like to hear from riders regarding the proposed schedule. Constructive comments are especially appreciated, and please remember that boats and dollars remain limited. So asking for more service for one island means someone else winds up with less.A draft fall schedule will be posted for comment on the WSF website. Links to the proposed schedule in various formats and links for comments can be found on the FAC website, at www.sanjuanco.com/fac.
Summer Ferry Schedule Starts Sunday
06/17/11: The summer ferry schedule goes into effect this coming Sunday June 19th. You can see and download the new schedule here. Schedules are also available at the Friday Harbor Chamber of Commerce, terminals and on the ferry boats.
(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.