From past test to future schedule @ Washington State Ferries’ Triangle Task Force

(WSB photo from February, approaching Fauntleroy)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Tomorrow night, six weeks of pavement and pathway work will start at the Fauntleroy ferry dock, aimed at keeping it viable until its scheduled replacement in about seven years.

That’s part of what the Washington State Ferries Triangle Improvement Task Force members heard about at their most recent meeting – projects in the near and distant future.

We’ve already published details of the dock work. So now, here’s what else was talked about at the task force meeting:

WSF is still working on the challenge that originally led to the task force’s creation – improving efficiency at the Fauntleroy terminal. Part of the meeting was spent reviewing results of a two-week experiment last month. You can see the results in the slide deck used for the meeting:

The test focused on the pm-commute period on weekdays during the weeks of March 12th and March 19th, breaking out pre-ticketed vehicles. In WSF’s view, the experimental procedures didn’t “meet the potential for improvement.” They included frequent changes to the illuminated signage at the tollbooths, and that, WSF said, led to confusion in loading. What did work: Communication between team members at the dock.

That’s what Task Force member Gary Dawson of Fauntleroy said he noticed, in observing the test: “The thing that really impressed me was watching the team work together – that includes the officer.” Team members would even be looking for the officer’s location by accessing the dock/vicinity cameras on their phones. Dawson said that was a reminder that the period without an officer at the dock because of a funding cut did not work well at all.

Another task-force member from Fauntleroy, Mardi Clements, said the experiment was “not working on so many levels.” She thought more public information about it – before, during – might have helped.

Kari Ulatoski from Vashon also saw a need for more information (the experiment was implemented relatively quietly) but was impressed by the collaboration. The pm commute time still has big challenges – she said she has stopped trying to use the 4:05 pm ferry because the wait is invariably an hour.

Kathleen Stephanick of Fauntleroy pointed out that social-media channels that have often been full of grousing about the ferry backups had “people … raving” about the experiment.

And there were other suggestions that advance announcements about changes would be helpful.

Tim O’Mahony, representing Southworth, observed the experiment for two days; on one, he said, he counted almost 100 vehicles headed to Southworth before one going to Vashon (WSF has said the Kitsap use is growing dramatically). He thinks the answer to the challenges will lie with the schedule changes.

Speaking of those … that’s another focal point for the task force this year. The route schedule is expected to change next year for the first time in a very long time, and task-force members are vetting proposals. At the meeting, with WSF senior planning manager Ray Deardorf leading the discussion, a “possible weekday-morning schedule concept” was floated, with a new 3:50 am Southworth departure, a 4:35 am Southworth departure (15 minutes later than the current one), a 6:15 am direct run from Southworth to Fauntleroy, a 7:40 am Southworth departure (15 minutes later than the current one), and a new 8:10 am direct run from Southworth to Fauntleroy, followed by 8:30 am Vashon to Fauntleroy.

For afternoon concepts, they’re looking at a new Fauntleroy multi-destination sailing at 4:45, a new Southworth to Fauntleroy direct sailing at 5 pm, and reversing the single- and multi-destination sailings at 7:15 and 7:30 pm. “The whole dynamics of the traffic patterns are changing,” Deardorf reiterated. And the densification of West Seattle, with the resulting traffic increases, is of note, too. No decisions were made at the meeting – this is all still in the run-up stage.

The task force also heard from WSF’s John Vezina, who had quick updates including the plans for UW researchers to study Fauntleroy dock operations – he will be meeting later this month with the professor and class who will be working on it.

And the WSF Long-Range Plan, another major focus for the task force, is moving forward. An “online open house” for it will open on Tuesday (April 10th) and remain open through May 24th (check wsflongrangeplan.com), and a series of in-person meetings will start soon too. The one set for Fauntleroy is on May 17th (6-8 pm at Fauntleroy Church, 9140 California SW, which is where the task force meets), and WSF hopes that task-force members will be able to be at the meetings – their next meeting, in fact, will immediately precede the one in Fauntleroy, 4:30-6 pm May 17th. They’re geared toward helping WSF “identify priorities and considerations” for the plan. No formal presentation is planned – it’ll be a drop-in meeting.

2 Replies to "From past test to future schedule @ Washington State Ferries' Triangle Task Force"

  • Else April 9, 2018 (12:30 pm)

    I hope that they will match the schedule changes to the Vashon water taxi going downtown. We are quite a few commuters connecting from the Southworth ferry to the water taxi going downtown. I know the Southworth fast ferry is scheduled to start in 2020 so the matching would only have to be temporary.

  • Timothy Doane April 9, 2018 (10:25 pm)

    That new 0350 sailing from southworth to fauntleroy will be welcomed!

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