Washington State Ferries Employee News

Read the June 2024 edition of Ferry Tales, the Washington State Ferries employee newsletter.

Watch the spring 2024 all-staff meeting recording from April 18.

Have an idea for this employee newsletter? Email WSFEmployeeComms@wsdot.wa.gov.

Used uniform clothing drive for fleet employees

When a vessel or terminal employee starts their maritime journey with Washington State Ferries, there are a lot of out-of-pocket costs.

While they are reimbursed after the start of their employment, many employees need to acquire a TWIC card ($125) and a MMC ($140-$280), in addition to uniform items and a physical. These expenses come out of pocket and can easily exceed $500 to start.

That’s where Jessica Reed comes in. Formally a terminal employee, Jessica moved into the safety office and had leftover uniforms.

When asked where the idea for a “used uniform clothing drive” came from, Jessica talks about an employee who stumbled upon a WSF rain jacket at a thrift store. She realized that people who leave WSF are left with uniforms they no longer need.

“It didn’t feel right to give them out or donate them externally when plenty of new employees need uniform items,” she said.

Various used uniforms on a table
A variety of used uniforms are available for employees.

For the last three years, Jessica has been bringing uniform items from her personal stash to new employee orientations. With the success of that, she decided to ramp things up and grow the program. In January, she began reaching out to other employees to see if there was an interest in donating items.

To date, Jessica estimates at least 40 new employees have benefitted from this program in the last three years. And it’s not just brand-new employees that benefit, many existing employees are able to get uniform items if their size changed and they haven’t yet received their new uniforms.

The most rewarding part?

“For me, it’s been when other employees or recent retirees have been excited that they don’t need to throw these things away,” she said.

“They can let go of them and they have a purpose. So, when somebody tells me ‘Thank you for taking these and giving them to someone who needs them,’ that is the rewarding part for me.”

Employees who would like to donate can contact Jessica Reed by email or phone at 206-487-2220.

Headshot of a person
Curt Hattell
Safety Systems Director

What’s New at HQ?

Our Risk Management team works agencywide to support WSF’s safety mission.

The team’s objective is to enhance safety awareness by limiting safety hazards. They prioritize employee consciousness of health and safety through training, Safety Management System policies, as well as, leading our Employee Safety & Health Committee and Employee Incident Investigations.

Risk Management reinforces the connection between safety and reducing workplace hazards. Their primary goal is to identify and communicate risks to the agency.

Defined by WSDOT, risk management is, “The sum of conscious actions taken to avoid or mitigate losses.”

Safety mitigation is a choice, and we all play an instrumental role. Choose safety! Risk Management is here to help.

June is National Safety Month, but safety should be on our minds year-round. Starting in July, our Risk Management team will have a safety tip or advice for employees in each issue of Ferry Tales in a new section called “Safety Matters.”

Employee Spotlight

Kari Orff
Inventory Materials Coordinator

If you need a battery, where do you go?

Sounds like the start to a bad joke, but Kari Orff knows exactly what, where and how many we have on hand.

Kari is an inventory materials coordinator at our warehouse in Seattle. She maintains an inventory of everything from AA batteries to rudders. She loves the satisfaction of being able to solve a problem, which often comes in the form of helping someone find something they’re looking for.

She likes to say that if they needed to, they could probably build a whole ferry from the parts in the warehouse. Her responsibility is to keep parts in the warehouse fully stocked, so that when there’s an emergency or unforeseen situation, they are ready to make necessary repairs or complete maintenance.

When asked what the most important item they keep on hand is, she definitively says “toilet paper.” The largest item they keep on hand – Issaquah-class reduction gears – is nearly the size of a studio apartment!

Several large ferry propeller on the ground outside a building
Several ferry propellers are stored just outside the walls of our warehouse in Seattle.

WSDOT/WSF logo wear store open ‘til June 28

Now’s your chance to get WSF logo wear or bags!

The WSDOT logo apparel store is open for business – but only for a limited time. The virtual doors close Friday, June 28.

If you want the WSF logo, you must first click on your desired style of clothing or accessory, and then you can select the WSF logo. Only the WSDOT logo is available for all hats. Items purchased will be shipped directly to your home.

This opportunity is part of the Combined Fund Drive, and 15% of each sale will go to the WSDOT Memorial Foundation, which supports employees who become disabled in the line of duty, surviving spouses and children of fallen workers and employees and their families affected by catastrophic injury or illness.

New Shared Values Coin recognition program

We have a new recognition program – the Shared Values Coin – to honor employees that demonstrate our shared values of serve, respect, growth, trust and navigate.

This Shared Values Coin can be awarded to anyone at any level who embodies WSF values through their actions and behavior.

The coin is a token of appreciation that symbolizes our collective commitment to the principles that define WSF.

Two people posing for a photo with person on left holding a coin
Operations Director Beth Stowell with Ordinary Seaman Seth Steben, who was the first recipient of our Shared Values Coin in early May. To keep Chetzemoka in service on our Point Defiance/Tahlequah route, Seth agreed to take an open job despite it being far from his home.
Four people posing for a photo with two on the right shaking hands
Assistant Secretary Steve Nevey, Senior Port Engineer Bill Schweyen and Vessel Engineering & Maintenance Director Richard Servance presented Walla Walla Alternate Staff Chief Engineer Jake Fulton with a Shared Values Coin in May. Jake went above and beyond to help complete needed repairs and inspections to restore the vessel to service in time for the busy Mother’s Day weekend. 
Two people posing for a photo with person on left holding a coin
Port Captain Jim Bauer recently awarded Capt. Ross Macfarlane with a Shared Values Coin for always acting with integrity, being a leader you could look up to and treating everyone with respect.
Three people posing for a photo at a terminal
Human Resource Manager Sarah Lynn Smith and Interim Senior Project Manager Rebecca Orbeck at Clinton terminal with Relief Seller Craig Simmons. Craig was given a Shared Values Coin for exemplifying a positive attitude and willingness to ensure our sailings happen for our customers by filling in as a relief.
Person holding a coin in the work area of an engine room on a ferry
Walla Walla Oiler Jeff Susedik recently received a Shared Values Coin for taking the Kitsap Transit Fast Ferry from Bremerton to Seattle to relieve an injured crewmember and keep the vessel in service.  

A culture we can all create together

Hopefully by now many of you have had a chance to read our WSF Playbook or have read Assistant Secretary Steve Nevey’s messages about our values. These represent a foundation for describing the kind of culture we can create together.

Steve sees culture change as more than an initiative. He sees it as the enabler of all initiatives.

Remember the rowboat analogy: culture is everyone rowing forward together to ensure collective success. Our values, behaviors and strategic priorities provide our map, ensuring that we all move the boat towards our common goals on the same charted course.

To ensure a lasting change, we will be engaging in five specific activities between now and the end of the year:

  1. Creating clarity about our vision, values and strategic focus areas. That’s why we started with the Playbook.
  2. Aligning our leadership team and ensuring they are 100% engaged in supporting this effort. This work is happening now.
  3. Engaging the whole system. We will be inviting you to participate and tapping into the best of your thinking about ways we can build the best, most talented and the happiest team we possibly can.
  4. Creating effective and efficient support processes. We will be incorporating our vision values and strategic focus areas into our daily work. More about that in July.
  5. Establishing metrics for success. Anything that is measured and watched, improves. We have begun to define some success metrics for this effort. We plan to make our activities and outcomes visible over the next 12-18 months.

If you haven’t yet had a chance to read the Playbook or learn about our values, please do and provide your feedback.

What’s Up at WSDOT?

June is 2SLGBTQIA+ Pride Month, a time to recognize and celebrate the 2SLGBTQIA+ community as well as how diversity and inclusiveness enhances our agency and community.

WSDOT’s Diversity Advisory Groups are coordinating our participation in the 50th Seattle Pride Parade on Sunday, June 30. The parade is a community-wide celebration that advances awareness of 2SLGBTQIA+ issues and promotes respect, equal opportunities and human rights for all.

Regional DAGs have sent information on how to participate. Registration is required and limited to the first 200 to respond. This is a voluntary event and any expense incurred including but not limited to overtime, exchange time, parking, meals or travel expenses will not be reimbursed.

Whether you are a participant or a spectator, this is an opportunity to show our shared commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, supporting and promoting WSDOT’s Strategic Plan and demonstrating that WSDOT strives to be a trusted partner of the communities we serve.

If you are not able to attend the festivities in Seattle, there are many other ways to celebrate and show your support. Several community events are listed on the Washington State LGBTQ Commission website.

Construction Corner

Southworth terminal staff works to keep sailings on schedule as construction take over half the trestle

Customers at our Southworth terminal now have a better path to the ferry after construction crews ripped out rotting timber decking beneath the walkway, replacing it with steel pan decking and a cast-in-place concrete walkway. This work required closing half the trestle and squeezing ferry traffic through a tight trestle for three weeks.

Newly laid concrete between a guardrail and vehicle lanes on a dock
Crews paved the pedestrian walkway at Southworth June 5 and 6 in preparation for the reopening of the two trestle lanes that had been blocked off for the work. 

Terminal staff had to figure out how to manage the lanes to keep not only the sailings to Vashon and Fauntleroy on time, but also the Kitsap Transit Fast Ferry that also uses the dock.

Terminal Supervisors Dennis Duff, Anthony Goch and Wayne McFarland gathered the team and collected insights from them. They identified potential problems and solutions. They empowered team members to make decisions to manage what’s often a dynamic situation when loading and unloading vessels – including over a busy Memorial Day weekend.

One week before construction began, terminal staff conducted a dry run to practice how they’d manage the lanes and fix any problems. They tested – and adjusted – their plan. They remained nimble as construction crews closed off the lanes and began demolition and repair work.

“We were able to foresee most issues and have solutions in place,” said Terminal Supervisor Wayne McFarland. “It gave the staff an opportunity to work together as a team. When the work started, we had a confident staff who was prepared.”

Even before all this, Southworth staff had communicated their plans so our communications and customer service teams could get the word out. Customers knew the work was coming long before it started. Some riders chose other routes. Others may have chosen to work from home. Mostly, oversized Vashon-bound vehicles that have to back down the trestle onto the ferry chose to use other routes during the work.

All these preparations were designed to keep the routes on schedule. The Fauntleroy/Vashon route is a bus route for a group of school children.

“We were able to fill boats efficiently and actually cut loading times and made up for lost time on some sailings,” Wayne said. “After the project is completed, we will take a look at where we can make slight changes in our normal procedures and incorporate the lessons learned.”

Way to go, Southworth team! 

Awards for 40 and 45 years of service

We recently presented some long-time service awards of 40 or more years at WSF.

Thank you to terminal employees Diane Halvorson, Linda Lindsey and Kimm Shride for your service and dedication over the years. Congratulations!

Two people posing for a photo with a ship's wheel and certificate in view
Kingston terminal employee Diane Halvorson and her son, Terminal Supervisor Tom Halvorson, with her ship’s wheel for her 45 years of service.
Two people posing for a photo at a ferry dock with person on left holding certificate and person on right holding a ship's bell
South Regional Operations Manager Jeff Lamont presents Southworth terminal employee Linda Lindsley with her 40-year ship bell and certificate.
Four people posing for a photo with center-left person holding a certificate and right-center person holding a ship's bell
Vashon terminal employee Kimm Shride with her 40-year ship bell, alongside Operations Director Beth Stowell, South Regional Operations Manager Jeff Lamont and Operations Director Program Assistant Bahar Suseyi.

Nautical Numbers

Here are some numbers that recap what we did in May:

1,681,386 total riders

  • 799,557 drivers (with vehicle)
  • 881,829 passengers and walk-ons

12,185 trips completed

66,098 service miles

98.6% trip reliability (based on scheduled trips)

208 medical priority loads/medevacs

7 lifesaving events

17 whale sightings (16 of them orcas)

Welcome Aboard!

Recent engine hires:

  • Christopher Barcus
  • Nicholas Bigler
  • Martrez Darden
  • Ian Jorgensen
  • Ian Mayberry
  • Scott Templeton
  • Jason Zwink

Recent Eagle Harbor hires:

  • David Colson
  • Douglas Easterday
  • Travis Johnson
  • Brian McKenzie

Recent HQ hires:

  • Christopher Jiles
  • Madison Linkenmeyer

We’re Hiring!

Current job openings at WSF:

From Our Social Media Feeds

Posts with most views on our X and Facebook accounts in the month of May:

May 22 post on X showing an aerial photo of Fauntleroy terminal with text "A friend of the ferries recently flew into Seattle and snapped this shot as they approached SeaTac. DO you know where these ferries are?"



Facebook post of photo of person in a ferry wheelhouse and details about the MITAGS/WSF two-year licensed deck officer apprenticeship program



Have an idea for this employee newsletter? Email WSFEmployeeComms@wsdot.wa.gov.

166,800 electric vehicle

registrations in Washington in 2023, up from 114,600 in 2022.

87 wetland compensation sites

actively monitored on 918 acres in 2023.

25,000 safe animal crossings

in the Snoqualmie Pass East Project area since 2014.