Weekly update

Each week, WSDOT Assistant Secretary Patty Rubstello, the head of Washington State Ferries, emails an update to staff, colleagues and stakeholders. 

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If you have suggestions or comments about the WSF Weekly Update, email WSFWeeklyUpdate@wsdot.wa.gov.

Each January, there is a special edition recapping the previous year. View the 2020 Year in Review (pdf 1.8 mb).

Here is the latest edition of the WSF Weekly Update:

July 29, 2021

Update on Wenatchee engine room fire

I met with State Sen. Christine Rolfes on Tuesday to discuss our Kitsap County service. During a tour of our Eagle Harbor Maintenance Facility, we visited Wenatchee, which has been out of service since April for repairs after a main engine failure and engine room fire during sea trials. Director of Vessel Engineering and Maintenance Matt Von Ruden say repairs are scheduled to be complete in October and anticipates that the vessel could be back in service by the end of that month. Thanks to Matt, Eagle Harbor General Manager R.J. Kelly and everyone at Eagle Harbor for being such great hosts.

Photo of people on car deck of ferry Wenatchee overlooking panel to engine room below
With (from left to right) Vessel Project Engineer Liel Nicodemus, State Sen. Christine Rolfes and Vessel Engineering and Maintenance Director Matt Von Ruden aboard Wenatchee.

New pandemic high for daily ridership

Late July through early August is when we usually see our peak in daily ridership. We carried more than 87,000 riders on Saturday, July 24, beating our old pandemic high of nearly 86,000 on Saturday, July 3, and making it our busiest day since Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019! With weekend ridership expected to be at or above these levels for several more weeks, be prepared for long waits if coming aboard in a vehicle, especially during peak travel times. Consider signing up for rider alerts, checking terminal conditions before travelling and making vehicle reservations if driving on our Anacortes/San Juan Islands or Port Townsend/Coupeville routes.

Line graph of combined walk-on ridership for Seattle/Bainbridge and Seattle/Bremerton routes from January to August 2019, 2020 and 2021
Walk-on ridership has nearly doubled since early May on our downtown Seattle routes, but is still down nearly 50% from this time in 2019.

How to submit a proposal to name our new vessel

Our first new hybrid-electric Olympic-class ferry needs a name. Although construction of the vessel does not begin until early next year with it entering service in 2025, the Washington State Transportation Commission (WSTC) recently started its naming process. If you’d like to submit a proposal, be sure to follow naming guidelines. Proposals must identify how they conform to those guidelines, provide background, make a case for the proposal and provide evidence of public support.

One more day to comment on WSTC’s proposed fares

Speaking of WSTC, you have through tomorrow, July 30, to provide input on their proposed ferry fare changes. You can submit comments via their online feedback form or email, or in person during the commission’s final virtual hearing on its fare proposal at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 10, when it is expected to vote on the fare changes. If you would like to testify, you will need to register for the hearing and sign up.

Fall vehicle reservations now available

Vehicle reservations are now available for our fall season, which runs from Sept. 26 through Jan. 1, 2022. For our Anacortes/San Juan Islands runs, 30% of available space has been released, another 30% opens two weeks prior to each sailing date, the final 30% will be available two days prior, with the remaining 10% saved for emergency and stand-by vehicles.

On our Port Townsend/Coupeville route, all reservations (80% of available space) are available, with the remaining 20% saved for emergency and stand-by vehicles. If we’re able to restart our Sidney, British Columbia sailings, we will announce in advance when reservations for international service will be made available.

A thousand bicyclists on our Seattle/Bainbridge route Sunday, Aug. 1

If you’re using our Seattle/Bainbridge route Sunday, Aug. 1, plan for delays and limited vehicle capacity as more than 1,000 bicyclists head to the island for the annual Chilly Hilly ride. Expect a lot of bikes on the 7:55, 8:55 and 9:35 a.m. sailings out of Seattle, then on all Bainbridge departures from 11:35 a.m. to 3 p.m. Drivers should consider alternate travel times or routes. Participants are asked to follow directions from our staff and Cascade Bicycle Club volunteers at the terminals and on our vessels.

Photo of bicycles on car deck of ferry
A sea of bikes is expected on morning sailings out of Seattle Sunday, Aug. 1, and Bainbridge departures in the afternoon.

Customer kudos

“Thank you for the patience and assistance you gave me last Friday (7/16) evening when the car I was driving wouldn't start [at Clinton terminal]. Your kindness kept me from panicking during a very stressful situation. Thought you all went over and beyond!! I am very grateful.”

-Mukilteo/Clinton customer

Patty Rubstello
Assistant Secretary, WSDOT/Ferries Division