Three ferry routes back at pre-pandemic service levels for start of busy season

Plan for long waits if driving on board for Memorial Day weekend travel

SEATTLE – May is the start of the busy travel season for Washington State Ferries. Service has returned to pre-pandemic levels on the Seattle/Bainbridge, Mukilteo/Clinton and Anacortes/San Juan Islands routes. However, people driving on board should still plan for long waits across the system over Memorial Day weekend.

WSF is restoring service on a route-by-route basis outlined in its COVID-19 Service Restoration Plan (PDF 794KB). In the latest plan Progress Report (PDF 593KB), the Edmonds/Kingston, Fauntleroy/Vashon/Southworth, Seattle/Bremerton and Port Townsend/Coupeville runs are still on alternate service schedules, which were put in place in October to reduce last-minute sailing cancellations caused by crewing challenges. International service connecting Sidney, British Columbia, Canada, with Anacortes and Friday Harbor, remains suspended.

“In addition to actively recruiting, hiring and training new employees, we’re implementing new ways to encourage, support and develop our existing crewmembers to promote up within our system,” said Patty Rubstello, head of WSF. “However, with COVID-19 cases on the rise, our reliability – along with many transportation agencies around the world – may temporarily decrease in the weeks ahead due to rising sick requests among our crews.”

If crewing availability allows, a second boat will be added daily on the Edmonds/Kingston route. Customers are encouraged to sign up for rider alerts to receive an update each night and morning on what schedule is operating on each run. Before heading to a terminal or boarding, people driving on board should check terminal conditions. Anacortes/San Juan Islands and Port Townsend/Coupeville routes also offer vehicle reservations.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is still recommending that people wear face masks in indoor public transportation settings, but they are no longer required.

Busy travel times

Ferries are popular every holiday weekend and people boarding a ferry by vehicle should be prepared for long waits. The busiest sailings will be westbound (or onto an island) Thursday and Friday, May 26-27, then eastbound (or off island) Sunday and Monday, May 29-30. To reduce or eliminate waiting, riders may consider taking an early morning or late-night sailing or walking on.

Holiday schedules

On Memorial Day, May 30, there will be a few holiday schedule changes for the Anacortes/San Juan Islands, Mukilteo/Clinton and Point Defiance/Tahlequah runs, along with the Edmonds/Kingston route if supplemental service is added. The Seattle/Bainbridge Island run will operate a Saturday timetable and the Fauntleroy/Vashon/Southworth route will run a Sunday timetable. Holiday sailings are marked on the schedules for each route.

People using state highways to get to the ferry terminal should plan for potential holiday travel backups and delays by checking real-time traffic information on the WSDOT traffic app for mobile devices or online using the updated WSDOT travel map feature.

WSF, a division of the Washington State Department of Transportation, is the largest ferry system in the U.S. and safely and efficiently carries tens of millions of people a year through some of the most majestic scenery in the world. For breaking news and the latest information, follow WSF on Twitter and Facebook.

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