Weekly update

Read the weekly update WSDOT Assistant Secretary Steve Nevey, the head of Washington State Ferries, sends to staff, colleagues and stakeholders.

Steps to receive a WSF Weekly Update in your email inbox every Thursday:

  • Log in
  • Enter your email address
  • Sign up for the new alert called "WSF Weekly Update" from the subscription list (located under the "News" section)

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 2023 Year in Review (PDF 4.7MB).

Here is the latest edition of the WSF Weekly Update:

April 18, 2024

A message from Steve

When I was offered the opportunity to move from the cruise industry to Washington State Ferries, one of the things that excited me most was reading the System Electrification Plan (PDF 4MB). With Earth Day on Monday, April 22, it would be a missed opportunity for me to not to brag about what our team is doing to achieve our goal of eliminating carbon emissions by 2050. Thanks to support from the governor and the Legislature, we are working on plans to build 16 new hybrid-electric vessels, convert six existing ferries to hybrid electric and electrify 16 terminals. This is a huge undertaking and an extremely ambitious plan. The new hybrid-electric boats will be clean and green.

Our diesel vessels are one of the state’s largest emitters of pollution, burning nearly 19 million gallons of diesel fuel for an estimated 180 metric tons of emissions each year. While some argue the state could build faster if we stuck with diesel vessels, that’s not the case. We would have to start a new design process, slowing things down by as much as a year or more from where we already are with our hybrid-electric vessel design process. This proven technology is widely deployed in Europe and will significantly reduce money spent on diesel, decrease fuel consumption by 76%, reduce maintenance and leverage stable energy prices.

As well as being the right thing to do, I speak with many new hires here at WSF who were drawn to work for us because they wanted to be part of our exciting electrification plans. This project will also create opportunities for skilled workers to upskill and develop the competencies needed to maintain, repair and operate this new technology. We are building a ferry system for the future, one that we can all be proud of.

Earth Day

Electrification is just one of many ways we’re making our ferry system the most sustainable in the world. In honor of Earth Day, I’d like to share a few highlights of our environmental efforts from the past year:

  • Continue to be a leader in reducing the effects of underwater noise on marine mammals: We serve on the Leadership Committee of Quiet Sound, a program that recently recognized us for leadership in the design and implementation of our voluntary vessel slowdowns. Since 2015, we’ve been one of just two U.S. entities in the ECHO Program, alongside the National Marine Fisheries Service.
  • Invited to speak at the United Nations’ International Maritime Organization about how we’re reducing emissions: During an Expert Workshop, Chief Sustainability Officer Kevin Bartoy shared how we have saved over 1 million gallons of fuel since 2018 through operational efficiency measures, which is not only better for the environment, but is a cost savings as well.
  • We completed our Sustainability Action Plan: 2023-2025 (PDF 1.6MB): This updated document includes improvements to our focus areas and goals based on lessons learned from our 2021-2023 Plan. That’s the first time we laid out objectives and key results. Our first Plan in 2019-2021 set a baseline for implementing recommendations, goals and actions laid out in our 2040 Long Range Plan.
  • Released our Waste Management and Reduction Plan (PDF 3.3MB): The plan outlines specific actions to address the many challenges involved in reducing waste. It was developed with input from staff across our system, particularly those who work as our eyes and ears aboard our vessels and at our terminals. And of course, all our employees will be working together to implement this plan.
American and Green Marine flags flying atop a ferry
This will be the third year we fly a “Green Marine Certified” flag on all our operating vessels on Earth Day as a display of our commitment to environmental sustainability. Green Marine is the premier environmental certification program for the North American maritime industry.

Engine room intern featured in Port of Seattle video

An engine room intern who will soon be a full-time WSF employee is featured in a new Port of Seattle video. The clip is about Martrez Darden’s experience with the Youth Maritime Career Launch. The program is a three-month paid internship that connects young adults ages 18-24 to permanent maritime employment opportunities. Martrez recently graduated from the program and applied for a job with us. We offered him an entry-level engine room position. He’s expected to start working on our vessels next month.

Screenshot from a video of a person on a boat with text on screen reading "Martrez Darden, Graduate, Youth Maritime Career Launch
Martrez Darden's time as an engine room intern with us is featured in a Port of Seattle video on the Youth Maritime Career Launch program.

Vehicle reservations for summer season available

Vehicle reservations are now available for our summer season, which runs from June 16 through Sept. 21. This two-month advance release is always our busiest of the year. When reservations were opened at 10 a.m. Tuesday, we used a virtual waiting room for the first time to prevent website overload and deliver fair access. Users were given their place in line, estimated expected wait time and an option to receive a notification on when to come back to the site when it’s their turn. Traffic diminished around 3 p.m., when we ended the waiting room.

By the end of the day, more than 45,500 reservations were made, up from 43,000 during last year’s summer release, when reservations were opened three hours earlier and more space was made available. We had to work through some glitches, like quickly lowering the number of users allowed into the site to improve web speeds. We also heard from a few people kicked out or who lost their place in line. If you choose to enter an email to receive a notification when it’s your turn, that email will also include a link back to your place in line so you will never lose it even if you accidentally end your browser session or need to access your place in line from a different device.

Vehicle holding lanes at Port Townsend terminal
All vehicle reservation space for our Port Townsend/Coupeville route (80% for each sailing) is now available. For our Anacortes/San Juan Islands runs, 25% of vehicle reservations space is now available. Another 25% will be available at 7 a.m. two weeks before each specific sailing and the final 25% at 7 a.m. two days before.

It’s important to note that all users, even those who wanted to check, modify or cancel an existing reservation were also required to wait in line to access the site when the waiting room is activated. Keep this in mind during all our two-month seasonal releases as we will continue to use the waiting room during high-demand periods until we have a new online reservations system in the coming years.

Hundreds of bicyclists on Vashon Island routes Sunday, April 21

If you’re using our Vashon Island routes Sunday, April 21, plan for possible delays and limited vehicle capacity as hundreds of bicyclists cross the island for the Ride for Major Taylor. Expect a lot of bikes on our Point Defiance departures from 9:15 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., then on sailings from Vashon to Fauntleroy from midday through the afternoon. 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.

Customer kudos

“Hey just wanted to say thank you! My car stalled on the ferry from Mukilteo to Whidbey Island this morning-old battery and must have left my lights on. The crew could not have been nicer and got me on my way with a jump start. Much appreciated!”

-Mukilteo/Clinton route customer

Steve Nevey
Assistant Secretary, WSDOT/Ferries Division

Slow down – lives are on the line. 

In 2023, speeding continued to be a top reason for work zone crashes.

Even one life lost is too many.

Fatal work zone crashes doubled in 2023 - Washington had 10 fatal work zone crashes on state roads.

It's in EVERYONE’S best interest.

95% of people hurt in work zones are drivers, their passengers or passing pedestrians, not just our road crews.