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FAQs - School Groups

Schools Schools Traveling on Ferries

School groups traveling on Washington State Ferries for official school functions can receive a discount on fares as long as WSF has sufficient notice; WSF cannot guarantee space for school requests received less than 72 hours in advance. Early notification of travel ensures enough space is reserved for your buses, vans, or personal vehicles on board our vessels.

To reserve space for your school group, please follow the instructions below. This information is required for student groups traveling in vehicles as well as groups that are walking onto the ferry. For groups traveling on reservation routes (Port Townsend/Coupeville, Anacortes/San Juans/Sidney B.C.), follow the link in the third step to make vehicle reservations for your group.
 
1. Travel Notification/Student Safety

The safety and well-being of your students is important to us. In addition, Coast Guard regulations require Washington State Ferries to have enough life preservers onboard for all children who weigh less than 90 pounds; otherwise, WSF vessels will not be allowed to sail. (Children over 90 pounds can use adult life jackets.) Please fill out this required form at least 72 hours in advance of travel to let us know about the size of your group. This information is required for student groups traveling in vehicles as well as those groups walking on.

2. School Discounts

The Washington Administrative Code (WAC 468-300-010) allows passengers who are traveling in authorized school groups for institution-sponsored activities to be charged a flat rate of $2 per walk-on group or $2 per vehicle occupied by students, advisors, and/or staff. Vehicles and drivers will be still be charged the fare applicable to vehicle size. To receive the school group discount, Washington State Ferries requires each vehicle or walk-on group to present to the ticket seller an "authorization letter" on school letterhead for each trip. The letter must state that this is a school-sponsored function or field trip and should be signed by the school administrator or transportation coordinator; it should also state the number of passengers traveling in that specific vehicle. 

Home School groups wishing to take advantage of the school group discount should bring a copy of the Declaration of Intent submitted to their local school district along with an authorization letter to the terminal. Home School groups should also make sure to complete the online form under step 1 above.

Example of Authorization Letter (pdf 70 kb)

Letters provided by the district after the time of travel are not accepted for refunds.

Non-profit organizations do not qualify for the school discount. If you have a question about your qualifications, please speak to an information agent at 888-808-7977 or email wsfinfo@wsdot.wa.gov.

3. Vehicle Reservation System

The vehicle reservation system is in place on the Port Townsend/Coupeville, and Anacortes/San Juan Island/Sidney B.C. routes.  For school groups traveling on these routes, we recommend making vehicle reservations at the Save a Spot website after completing Steps 1 and 2 outlined above.  If your school group is traveling on any other non-reservation route, the completed student safety form above will be sent to the terminals, and the staff will be made aware of your travel plans.