Weekly update

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

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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:

July 18, 2024

A message from Steve

Last week was challenging for our customers and employees navigating our service amidst a domino effect of disruptions. On top of losing two vessels, and temporarily a third, in one day on our Anacortes/San Juan Islands route to mechanical issues, we’ve seen an increase in crewing cancellations due to health-related relief requests and vacation leave. This temporary setback is difficult to digest, especially since we recently had our first week with no canceled sailings due to crewing since the pandemic began.

I know each cancellation impacts the daily life of our customers. One of our top priorities is to address our crewing issues, but as I’ve said before, it's complicated and will take time. We are training and promoting existing crewmembers who have completed their licensing credentials into more senior positions.

Several people on the outdoor deck of a ferry on a sunny day
For the week of July 8-14, we completed 92.6% of our 2,829 scheduled sailings, below our 95% goal. We replaced 10 of our 218 canceled sailings, which were due to crewing (57%), a vessel being out of service (16%), crew unable to get to the San Juan Interisland boat in Friday Harbor because another ferry was out of service (6%) and schedule resets (20%), when a boat is so far behind schedule, we cancel a sailing to get it back on schedule, providing predictability for customers.

I know service disruptions also put added pressure and stress on our customer-facing employees so it’s disheartening to hear reports of customers directing serious verbal abuse at our staff during these times. These are the very people working hard to get as many people as possible to their destinations safely. I am very appreciative of their efforts to find solutions when sailings are canceled, and those who fill shifts or extend their watch to keep a boat in service. Please do not take frustration out on our frontline employees and instead submit your feedback so that these issues can be properly addressed.

It's my job to look ahead and I can see relief to our service woes in the future. While there will be more bumps, cancellations and disruptions to come, I am committed to implementing solutions now to make the system resilient for the long term. I ask that you support us as we are dedicated to improving our service, restoring confidence and trust in our system.

Vehicle reservations for fall available at 10 a.m. Tuesday, July 23

Vehicle reservations for our fall season (Sept. 22 to Dec. 28) on our Anacortes/San Juan Islands and Port Townsend/Coupeville routes will be available at 10 a.m. Tuesday, July 23. Like the summer release, we will be using a virtual waiting room to prevent website overload and deliver fair access during this high-demand period. Customers accessing the site who are directed to the waiting room will see their place in line, estimated expected wait time and will have the option to receive a notification and come back to the site when it is their turn.

Aerial view of Friday Harbor terminal with a ferry at the dock and other islands in the background
For our Anacortes/San Juan Islands route, 25% of vehicle reservation space will be available. Another 25% will be released at 7 a.m. two weeks before each specific sailing and the final 25% at 7 a.m. two days before, with the remaining 10% for standby traffic. All vehicle reservation space for our Port Townsend/Coupeville run (80% for each sailing) will be available, leaving 20% for standby travelers.

It’s important to note that all users, even those who want to check, modify or cancel an existing reservation will be 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.

Vashon Island Strawberry Festival

It will be an extra busy weekend on our Vashon Island routes with the community’s annual Strawberry Festival attracting thousands of visitors. To help with the added traffic, we plan to move the unscheduled third boat back to our Fauntleroy/Vashon/Southworth run. The 90-car Sealth is scheduled to operate on our “Triangle” route from early morning to midday tomorrow, July 19, and for several hours midday on both Saturday and Sunday, July 20 and 21.

Fauntleroy terminal with a ferry at the dock and people walking to the boat and vehicles waiting
We recommend that festivalgoers use our ferries to walk on at our Fauntleroy, Southworth or Point Defiance terminals if they can. King County Metro’s Route 118 serves the dock at both Vashon and Tahlequah and stops at the festival.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal tours Seattle terminal to discuss shoreside electrification

We had the honor of hosting Rep. Pramila Jayapal at our Seattle terminal yesterday. Congresswoman Jayapal is a longtime advocate of our sustainability efforts, specifically shoreside electrification at Colman Dock. She submitted a community-based funding request to support our system electrification efforts, and met with our staff to learn firsthand the important role the funding would provide to support electrification. Thanks to Planning, Customer and Government Relations Director John Vezina, Terminal Engineering Director David Sowers and Senior Marine Engineer Tammy Binschus, for leading her on a tour of the facility and going over our shoreside electrification plans.

Two people talking at a ferry terminal with a vessel in the background
Senior Marine Engineer Tammy Binschus talks with Rep. Pramila Jayapal about our shoreside electrifications plans at Seattle’s Colman Dock.

Lost dog at Colman Dock has a new home

A husky found without a human at our Seattle terminal last month is now living with one of our employees. Our Colman Dock staff took in the visibly hungry and thirsty pooch around 2 a.m. June 12. They took care of the pup there while we searched for its owner. A scan of the dog’s chip led us to the Seattle Animal Shelter and identified the husky as “Tripp.” With the shelter unable to contact the owner, our employee has unofficially adopted the pooch.

Husky with a bright orange leach in a small room
The husky was found in the early morning hours at Colman Dock in Seattle last month.
Husky on a rug and a sofa in the background
The dog, which our employee has renamed “Theo,” in his new home.

SR 305 nighttime roadwork between Poulsbo and Bainbridge Island

Ferry travelers who use State Route 305 through the Agate Pass Bridge area in the evening through early morning should plan for extra travel time the next several days. From 7 p.m. tonight to 7 a.m. Friday morning, the highway will be reduced to one alternating lane of traffic at Northeast Adas Will Lane in northern Bainbridge Island for work on a safety improvement project. The same area will be down to one lane from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. tomorrow night, July 19, and again on Monday and Tuesday nights, July 22 and 23. Then from 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 24, to 6 a.m. Thursday, July 25, SR 305 near Totten Road between Poulsbo and Suquamish will be reduced to one alternating lane of traffic for electrical work associated with a fish barrier removal project.

Annual tribal canoe journey

You may see tribal canoes while riding our ferries starting next week and continuing through the end of the month. Children are the focus of this year’s annual tribal canoe journey, known as the Power Paddle to Puyallup Youth Canoe Journey 2024. Look for canoes on our Anacortes/San Juan Islands and Port Townsend/Coupeville routes next week, then our Puget Sound runs next weekend, all leading up to a celebration hosted by the Puyallup Tribe of Indians Aug. 1-5.

Tribal canoes in water with a ferry in the background
If you capture a photo or video of the annual tribal canoe journey while riding our ferries, share them with us on X.

Customer kudos

“I want to give a huge shout out to the ferry workers ... believe on the Suquamish boat around 7 leaving Clinton and 7:30 leaving Mukilteo. My best friend was helping me move back to the island and it was a long hot tiring day. She accidentally left her car keys in the passenger holding area on the Mukilteo side...

“They worked hard to get a hold of the people on the Mukilteo side to track down her keys when we were in panic mode not knowing where we lost them and then got permission to let us stay on the boat to go back and retrieve them once they found them! They were so kind and kept us updated every step of the way when they really didn’t need to do anything to help us.

“Be kind to our ferry workers tell them thank you they work hard ... If you were someone who helped us and you see this thank you so much for being so kind and acting fast to make sure we could get back home after a very long exhausting day! 🥰

-Mukilteo/Clinton route customer

Steve Nevey
Assistant Secretary, WSDOT/Ferries Division

166,800 electric vehicle

registrations in Washington in 2023, up from 114,600 in 2022.

87 wetland compensation sites

actively monitored on 918 acres in 2023.

25,000 safe animal crossings

in the Snoqualmie Pass East Project area since 2014.