Local Information

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas: Expect long wait times for vehicles boarding a ferry

Thursday, December 20, 2018 - 09:19

Ian Sterling communications, 206-714-1556
WSF media hotline, 206-402-8070

Plan for heavy traffic, especially on the busy Edmonds/Kingston route

EDMONDS – Hundreds of thousands of people will be dashing through the sound on a crowded state ferry over the next several days. People driving onto a vessel should plan for long wait times as many travelers head to or from their Christmas or New Year’s getaways.  Delays may be longest on the Edmonds/Kingston route, where a smaller-than-normal vessel is in service.

Busiest travel times

The Saturdays prior to the Christmas Day and New Year’s Day holidays are expected to be the busiest. With Christmas falling on a Tuesday this year, many passengers are also likely to travel on the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday following the holiday. Delays are expected in both directions on several routes.

To reduce or eliminate wait times, customers may consider walking on the ferry or travelling early in the morning or late in the evening.

Vehicle capacity reduction on Edmonds/Kingston route

Despite a spike over Christmas week, vehicle traffic during this period is far less compared to the summer months. To minimize possible summertime service disruptions, several vessels are undergoing wintertime maintenance. As a result, the 188-vehicle Walla Walla is substituting for the 202-vehicle Puyallup on the Edmond/Kingston route through early 2019. Customers will need to plan ahead as the reduction in vehicle space could contribute to longer wait times.

Historically, far fewer people catch a ferry for the New Year’s holiday.

Holiday schedules

There will be a few holiday schedule changes for the Edmonds/Kingston, Mukilteo/Clinton, Point Defiance/Tahlequah and Anacortes/San Juan Islands/Sidney, British Columbia routes on Dec. 25 and Jan. 1. The Seattle/Bainbridge and Fauntleroy/Vashon/Southworth routes will operate on a weekend timetable on both days.

Travel tips

People who travel the highways should plan ahead for potential backups and delays as they make their way to the ferry terminals with real-time traffic information on the WSDOT traffic app for their mobile device.

Winter sailing schedule begins Jan. 6

There will be new sailing timetables on many routes starting Sunday, Jan. 6, when the winter schedule goes into effect. There will be fewer sailings on the Anacortes/San Juan Islands and Fauntleroy/Vashon/Southworth routes and service to Sidney, British Columbia will be suspended until spring.

Washington State Ferries, a division of the Washington State Department of Transportation, is the largest ferry system in the U.S. and safely and efficiently carries nearly 25 million people a year through some of the most majestic scenery in the world.

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