Washington State Ferries - On-time performance

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On-time performance

Source: Washington State Ferries

Note: Fiscal year - July 1 through June 30. WSF combines the Anacortes/Friday Harbor route with the San Juan Interisland route as the San Juan Domestic for on-time performance as available data does not distinguish between these two routes. The Anacortes/Friday Harbor/Sidney, B.C. route has been closed since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Performance analysis

FY2024 Q1 (July - September 2023)

WSF on-time performance improves during the quarter

On-time performance was 75.8% in the first quarter of FY2024, 1.2 percentage points higher than the same quarter in FY2023. The quarterly rate was below WSF's annual on-time performance goal of 95%.

On-time performance increased on three of the eight routes compared to the first quarter of FY2023. The largest increase was the San Juan Domestic route, which increased 12.9% in FY2024 as compared to the same quarter in FY2023.

On-time performance for the Edmonds/Kingston and Mukilteo/Clinton routes declined 4.5 and 4.0 percentage points, respectively. Both routes also had a decline in reliability, which means fewer sailings occurred in relation to scheduled sailings. With fewer sailings, vessels are more fully-loaded, which can increase dwell time and adversely affect on-time performance.

FY2023 Q4 (April - June 2023)

WSF on-time performance decreases during the quarter

On-time performance was 81.6% in the fourth quarter of FY2023, 0.2 percentage points lower than the same quarter in FY2022. This means 6,426 of the 34,996 total sailings did not leave the dock within 10 minutes of the scheduled time. The quarterly rate also missed WSF's annual on-time performance goal of 95%.

The Seattle/Bremerton route experienced the largest decrease in on-time performance, going from 96.0% in the fourth quarter of FY2022 to 81.8% in the same quarter of FY2023. The current one-boat service on this route means it is more fully loaded during each sailing, which requires more time to load and unload. This has lowered on-time performance for this route, although more people are able to travel on the route.

FY2023 Q3 (January - March 2023)

WSF misses annual on-time performance goal

On-time performance was 89.5% in the third quarter of FY2023; this is 1.0 percentage point higher than the same quarter in FY2022. WSF's quarterly performance was 5.5 percentage points below the annual on-time performance goal of 95%.

On-time performance increased on two of the eight routes compared to the third quarter of FY2023. Of the 33,584 performed trips, 3,538 (10.5%) trips did not leave the terminal within 10 minutes of the scheduled departure time. The Mukilteo/Clinton route had the largest percentage point increase (7.6%) from 90.7% to 98.3% on time.

FY2023 Q2 (October - December 2022)

On-time performance improves for the quarter

On-time performance increased to 90.3% in the second quarter of FY2023 compared to 88.6% for the same quarter in FY2022. The quarterly rate was below WSF's annual on-time performance goal of 95%.

On average in the second quarter of FY2023, 37 of the 378 (9.7%) daily trips did not leave the terminal within 10 minutes of the scheduled departure time, an improvement from the average of 39 out of 339 trips (11.4%) for the same quarter in FY2022.

On-time performance increased on three routes compared to the second quarter of FY2022. The San Juan domestic route had the largest increase (15.3%), while the Seattle/ Bremerton route increased 3% and the Mukilteo/Clinton route improved by 1.2%.

FY2023 Q1 (July - September 2022)

On-time performance declines during the quarter

On-time performance was 74.6% in the first quarter of FY2023, 7.3 percentage points lower than the same quarter in FY2022. The quarterly rate was below WSF's annual on-time performance goal of 95%.

This was primarily due to the alternate service plan in place for the first quarter of FY2023. There was only one vessel instead of two vessels scheduled on the Seattle/Bremerton, Edmonds/Kingston and Port Townsend/Coupeville routes; the Fauntleroy/Vashon/Southworth route operated on two boats instead of three. A second vessel was operated on the Edmonds/Kingston route with trips added the day of service when there was sufficient crew available. With reduced service, there was more vehicle demand for the vessels that were operating; thus, vessels were more fully loaded, and this resulted in increased dwell time to load and unload vessels which adversely affected on-time performance.

The largest decrease was on the Fauntleroy/Vashon/Southworth route, which dropped 15.1 percentage points to 74.7% in FY2023 as compared to 89.8% in the same quarter of FY2022.

On-time performance increased on two of the eight routes compared to the first quarter of FY2022.

FY2022 Q4 (April - June 2022)

On-time performance decreases during quarter

On-time performance was 81.8% in the fourth quarter of FY2022, 3.4 percentage points lower than the same quarter in FY2021. This means 6,065 sailings did not leave the dock within 10 minutes of the scheduled time. The quarterly rate was below WSF's annual on-time performance goal of 95%. The only route to achieve the annual on-time performance goal for the quarter was Seattle/Bremerton at 96%.

The Edmonds/Kingston route experienced the largest decrease in on-time performance, going from 97.7% in the fourth quarter of FY2021 to 84.1% in the same quarter of FY2022. The current one-boat service on this route means it is more fully loaded during each sailing, which requires more time to load and unload.

FY2022 Q3 (January - March 2022)

WSF misses annual on-time performance goal

On-time performance was 88.5% in the third quarter of FY2022; this is 3.6 percentage points lower than the same quarter in FY2021. WSF's quarterly performance was 6.5 percentage points below the annual on-time performance goal of 95%.

On-time performance decreased on five of the eight routes compared to the third quarter of FY2021. Of the 30,331 performed trips, 3,488 (11.5%) trips did not leave the terminal within 10 minutes of the scheduled departure time. The Mukilteo/Clinton route had the largest percentage decrease (8.0%) from 98.7% to 90.7%. The route with the greatest improvement in on-time performance was the San Juan Domestic route with an improvement of 0.9% as compared to the same quarter in the previous year.

FY2022 Q2 (October - December 2021)

On-time performance up slightly, misses goal

On-time performance increased to 88.6% compared to 88.2% for the same quarter in FY2021. The quarterly rate was below WSF's annual on-time performance goal of 95%. On average, 39 out of 339 (11.4%) daily trips did not leave the terminal within 10 minutes of the scheduled departure time, decreasing from an average of 45 out of 382 trips (11.8%) for the same quarter in FY2021.

On-time performance improved on two routes compared to the second quarter of FY2021, with the San Juan domestic route experiencing the largest increase (17.7%). Some sailings experienced high vehicle ridership with the alternate service schedule. More volume on ferries resulted in longer loading and unloading times, which negatively affected on-time performance.

Construction continued on the terminal at Colman Dock in Seattle, and both routes that use the terminal (Seattle/Bainbridge and Seattle/ Bremerton) had decreased on-time performance compared to the same quarter in FY2021 as a result.

FY2022 Q1 (July - September 2021)

On-time performance improves during the quarter

On-time performance was 81.9% in the first quarter of FY2022, 1.6 percentage points higher than the same quarter in FY2021. The quarterly rate was below WSF's annual on-time performance goal of 95%.

On-time performance increased on two of the eight active routes compared to the first quarter of FY2021 (see chart on p.32). The San Juan Domestic route had the largest increase (24.1%) compared to the same quarter in FY2021. This was primarily due to operating on a modified service schedule in FY2022 with additional terminal dwell time for loading and unloading, as compared to the modified winter schedule this route was operating under in FY2021.

During the first quarters of the last five fiscal years, WSF has missed the annual goal of 95% of all trips completed on-time. On-time performance during the first quarters has steadily decreased for four of the last five years, with the only increase occurring in FY2022.

FY2021 Q4 (April - June 2021)

On-time performance decreases during quarter

On-time performance was 85.2% in the fourth quarter of FY2021, 9.9 percentage points lower than in the same quarter in FY2020. This means 5,357 sailings did not leave the dock within 10 minutes of the scheduled time. The quarterly rate missed WSF's annual on-time performance goal of 95%.

On-time performance decreased on all routes compared to the fourth quarter of FY2020. The Edmonds/ Kingston route had the smallest drop in on-time performance with a 1.4 percentage point decrease from 99.1% to 97.7%. This route and the Mukilteo/Clinton route were the only routes to achieve the annual on-time performance goal of 95%.

The San Juan Domestic route experienced the most significant change in on-time performance compared to the same quarter in FY2020, with a decrease of 17.6 percentage points from 84.1% to 66.5%.

The Seattle/Bainbridge Island route had a decrease of 16.3 percentage points from 92.6% to 76.3% in on-time performance. High ridership as noted in the previous section, translates to more vessels being fully loaded with vehicles, which takes more time to load and unload. Combined with ongoing construction at Colman Dock in Seattle that affects vessel unloading on-time performance declined.

FY2021 Q3 (Januarly - March 2021)

WSF misses on-time performance goal

On-time performance was 92.1% in the third quarter of FY2021, 3.2 percentage points lower than the same quarter in FY2020, and 2.9 percentage points below WSF's annual on-time performance goal of 95%.

On-time performance decreased on seven of the eight routes compared to the third quarter of FY2020. On average, 7.9% (2,742) of the scheduled trips did not leave terminals within 10 minutes of the scheduled departure time. The San Juan Domestic route had 71.0% on-time performance, a decrease of 11.6 percentage points from the same quarter last year (82.6%). Excluding the San Juan domestic route, the system had a 96.4% on-time performance.

The only route with an improvement in on-time performance was the Seattle/Bremerton route, which increased 2.1 percentage points— from 95.7% to 97.8%—compared to the same quarter in FY2020.

FY2021 Q2 (October - December 2020)

On-time performance still down during pandemic

On-time performance decreased to 88.2% during the second quarter of FY2021 compared to 93.5% for the same quarter in FY2020. The quarterly rate was below WSF's annual on-time performance goal of 95%.

The San Juan Domestic route—which had on time performance of 53.6%—pulled down the system-wide average for the quarter, which would have been 95.4% otherwise. On-time performance decreased on four of nine routes compared to the second quarter of FY2020. The San Juan domestic route had the largest decrease (-29.9%) in on-time performance compared to the same quarter last year.

WSF continued to operate on a modified winter schedule, which provides less dwell time for vessel loading and unloading. Some routes, including the domestic San Juan route, are experiencing higher ridership than what they have historically experienced during a normal winter schedule. These higher volumes on some routes resulted in longer loading and unloading times and adversely affected on-time performance.

The Seattle/Bainbridge route showed a 4.0 percentage point improvement in on-time performance compared to the same quarter last year . Even though construction continued on the terminal at Colman Dock in Seattle, both routes that use the terminal (Seattle/Bainbridge and Seattle/Bremerton) had improved on-time performance over the same quarter last year.

On average in the second quarter of FY2021, 45 out of 382 (11.8%) daily trips did not leave the terminal within 10 minutes of the scheduled departure time, increasing from an average of 28 out of 435 trips (6.5%) for the same quarter in FY2020.

FY2021 Q1 (July - September 2020)

On-time performance down during COVID-19 pandemic

On-time performance was 80.3% in the first quarter of FY2021, 5.2 percentage points lower than the same quarter in FY2020. The quarterly rate is below WSF's annual on-time performance goal of 95%.

On-time performance increased on five of the eight active routes compared to the first quarter of FY2020.

The San Juan Domestic route had the largest decrease (-33.7%) compared to the same quarter in FY2020. This is primarily due to operating on the modified winter schedule which has shorter terminal dwell times than the normal summer schedule. Fewer sailings resulted in ferries being more fully loaded, which lead to longer dwell times to load and unload. Excluding this route, the system achieved 89.8% on-time performance.

During the first quarters of the last five fiscal years, WSF has missed the annual goal of 95% of all trips completed on-time. On-time performance has steadily decreased from the five-year high of 90.9% in FY2017 to 80.3% in FY2021.

FY2020 Q4 (April - June 2020)

On-time performance improves during quarter

On-time performance was 95.1% in the fourth quarter of FY2020, 7.6 percentage points higher than in the same quarter in FY2019. The quarterly rate achieved WSF's on-time performance goal of 95%.

The reduction in the number of sailings made it easier for vessels to stay on schedule as there was more ability to catch up if a vessel got behind schedule. In addition, with fewer riders, less time was needed to load and unload vessels and this helped maintain departure time.

The reduction in the number of sailings made it easier for vessels to stay on schedule as there was more ability to catch up if a vessel got behind schedule. In addition, with fewer riders, less time was needed to load and unload vessels and this helped maintain departure time.

The San Juan Domestic route experienced a 16.4% improvement in on-time performance compared to the same quarter in FY2019.

FY2020 Q3 (Januarly - March 2020)

WSF achieves on-time performance goal

On-time performance was 95.3% in the third quarter of FY2020, 1.6 percentage points higher than the same quarter in FY2019, and above WSF's annual on-time performance goal of 95%.

On-time performance increased on eight of nine routes compared to the third quarter of FY2019. On average 4.7% (1,795) of trips did not leave the terminal within 10 minutes of the scheduled departure time. The San Juan Domestic route had 82.6% on-time performance, a decrease of 1.3 percentage points from 84.8% during the same quarter last year.

The largest increase in on-time performance was on the Anacortes/ Friday Harbor/Sidney, B.C. route, which increased 16.7 percentage points—from 83.3% to 100%—compared to the same quarter last year. The low number of sailings makes small numeric changes result in large percentage changes. In FY2019, there were two late sailings out of 12 total, resulting in on-time performance of 83.3%.

The second largest increase in on-time performance was 5.3% onthe Bainbridge Island/Seattle route, which increased from 90% in FY2019 to 95.3% in FY2020—primarily caused by unusually low on-time performance in March 2019 due to construction at Colman Dock.

FY2020 Q2 (October - December 2019)

On-time performance decreases during the fall quarter

On-time performance decreased slightly to 93.5% in the second quarter of FY2020 compared to 93.6% for the same quarter in FY2019. The quarterly rate was below WSF annual on-time performance goal of 95%.

On-time performance in October (92.1%) pulled the average for the quarter down, as November and December exceeded the on-time performance goal at 96.0% and 96.3%, respectively. In October 2019, WSF engaged in seven days of underwater noise studies for which captains modified vessel speeds to simulate various conditions. This may have adversely affected on-time performance for the routes serving these areas.

On-time performance decreased on three of nine routes compared to the second quarter of FY2019. The San Juan domestic route had the largest decrease (4.4%) compared to the same quarter last year The Seattle/Bainbridge route had the most improved on-time performance, which was 3.6% higher than the same quarter in FY2019. Even though construction continued on Colman Terminal during the quarter, both routes that service the terminal (Seattle/Bainbridge and Seattle/Bremerton) saw on-time performance improve from the same quarter last year. On average in the second quarter of FY2020, 29 out of 441 (6.5%) daily trips did not leave the terminal within 10 minutes of the scheduled departure time, increasing from an average of 28 out of 437 trips (6.4%) for the same quarter in FY2019.

FY2020 Q1 (July - September 2019)

On-time performance decreases during the fall quarter

On-time performance was 85.5% in the first quarter of FY2020, 0.2 percentage points lower than the same quarter in FY2019. The quarterly rate is below WSF's annual on-time performance goal of 95%.

During the first quarters of the last five fiscal years, WSF missed the annual goal of 95% of trips completed on-time. On-time performance during these time periods has steadily decreased from the five-year high of 91.1% in FY2016 to 85.5% in FY2020. These delays can be attributed to schedules with insufficient dwell time (time spent loading and unloading while docked) to accommodate the busy sailing season.

During the first quarters of the last five fiscal years, WSF missed the annual goal of 95% of trips completed on-time. On-time performance during these time periods has steadily decreased from the five-year high of 91.1% in FY2016 to 85.5% in FY2020. These delays can be attributed to schedules with insufficient dwell time (time spent loading and unloading while docked) to accommodate the busy sailing season.

The tradeoff to increase dwell time would be to reduce the number of sailings, which is not viable due to the increased service demand WSF is experiencing. Vessels could travel at faster speeds to make up this time, but operating them at maximum capacity for long periods of time could result in additional mechanical breakdowns.

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