FERRIES: No third boat for Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth this holiday weekend, or anytime soon

(WSB file photo)

It’s been more than eight months since the Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth ferry route was again reduced to two boats. Even for a busy holiday weekend, it’s not getting a third boat – and it’s not likely to see three-boat service restored until next spring, which could mean almost one full year from now. That’s according to both WSF’s latest Service Restoration Plan Progress Report and the updates given at WSF’s online community meetings earlier this month.

At the meetings – we watched the recording of the daytime session on June 14th – WSF managers went into exhaustive detail about the systemwide shortages of both staff and vessels that have put their service-restoration plan on “pause” right now. Regarding staff, they said the most critical shortage is of licensed captains and deck officers – they have 26 fewer than they need, and it’s not an easy position to fill, because the WSF captains and mates also have to be trained pilots, something that other large ships handle in Puget Sound by bringing a pilot on board. Meantime, they have five fewer vessels than needed. And new fleet additions are now even further in the future than before, as the state’s talks with Vigor to build the new hybrid ferries broke down (as first reported by the Kitsap Sun) and they’ll be going out to bid, which means no new ferry before 2027. The first one was supposed to be under construction by now, per the plan originally announced at a Vigor event we covered in 2019.

Back to service restoration in the shorter term – WSF reps were asked at the June 14th meeting why Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth is toward the bottom of the priority list for restoration, considering it includes a ferry-dependent community. System managers noted that Vashon has an alternative – the one-boat Tahlequah-Point Defiance run. They’re also not expecting to restore regular service levels to Seattle/Bremerton or Port Townsend/Coupeville until next spring, either.

8 Replies to "FERRIES: No third boat for Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth this holiday weekend, or anytime soon"

  • Katrina June 29, 2022 (1:23 pm)

    We are hoping to take the ferry to southworth on Friday afternoon. Can anyone with experience share timing estimates? What time do we need to get in line if we’d like to be on a boat around 2? Thank you!

    • C June 29, 2022 (2:41 pm)

      It’s really hard to predict especially on a holiday weekend. I would use the WSDOT app and locate the ferries section. From there you can see how behind the boats are running (vessel watch shows you this-typically they run late). You can also use the ferry cam to see how backs up traffic is at the terminal. Southworth I’d get there early because they tend to load a LOT of vashon passengers even if they’re in line behind you. 

    • Bus June 29, 2022 (5:02 pm)

      On a holiday weekend, you might consider just driving around at that hour.  It’s about an hour, hour and a half with traffic to drive.  The wait for the ferry + crossing time is likely to be more.  Otherwise C’s advice for keeping tabs on the lines is great.  Plan to be in line plenty early.

    • John June 29, 2022 (6:46 pm)

      I’d recommend going as early as you can there’s stuff to do in Port orchard just hang out for a bit. Super yummy Quiznos over there too!

    • Patti June 30, 2022 (8:59 am)

      I live on Vashon and work in West Seattle. Fridays sometimes seem impossible to get home especially on a holiday. A normal wait on a Friday afternoon is 2 hours, a holiday wait even longer. I would 100% drive around. 

  • Alex June 29, 2022 (8:49 pm)

    Your fellow motorists will appreciate if you approach the line from the north traveling south instead of doing a UTurn on Fauntleroy to enter the queue.   Sign me narrowly escaping TBoning a UTurner last week.   He turned right in front of me and was oblivious to the close call.     

    • Lola June 30, 2022 (7:57 am)

      Alex,  I second that you do not pull a u turn in front of me.  I get so tired of the ones who turn right at the Ferry Dock even with TWO No U Turn Signs in plain sight.  I even had a truck pull over to the side right after the crosswalk by the ferries and sit there.  Not enough room to do that.  Please go to the appropriate spots to turn around like the parking lots not whipping a u-turn in front of someone.  

  • DRW June 30, 2022 (12:47 pm)

    Instead of the clunky WSDOT app try Ferry Friend. Easy to use and it also has a real time map!

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