Washington State Ferries has released its latest report on service-restoration progress. Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth – also known as the “Triangle Route” – is still on reduced service, 2 boats instead of 3. It’s now estimating that three-boat service can be partially restored in May, fully restored in fall. From the report:
Estimated restoration: May 2023 (weekday service); Fall 2023 (full service)
• WSF expects to begin trialing full weekday three-boat service in early-April, or once a vessel and crewing is available. Because the three-boat schedule is so different from the two boat schedule, the Trial Service stage will be more challenging than trials on other
routes. WSF will communicate with customers regularly about each day’s expected schedule and anticipates it may take longer than three weeks to reach full route restoration.
• The route will be considered fully restored once it reaches 95% reliability on the threeboat schedule for a period of three weeks. At this time, WSF expects weekday service on the Fauntleroy/Vashon/Southworth route to be restored by the end of May 2023 and to be operating the full weekly schedule by Fall 2023.
• While waiting for both the vessel and crewing availability necessary to trial three-boat service, WSF will add some additional midday and evening service to fill gaps in the two-boat schedule.
The report also details fleet and staff status; on the latter, citing “unprecedented” staff shortages, WSF says, “The number of licensed deck officers (captains and mates) is the biggest crewing challenge facing WSF. Ideally, WSF would have approximately 200 licensed deck officers in the system. As of Feb. 15, 2023, WSF has 165 LDOs. These highly skilled and highly credentialed positions are challenging to fill.” Regarding the fleet, WSF recounts the need to extend the usage of three vessels slated to be retired this decade, and notes that it’s running so close to bare minimum that unscheduled problems result in unavoidable service reductions: “Vessel availability has recovered from the maintenance backlog in the initial months of the pandemic; however, the vessel pillar remains at high risk because of an aging, diminishing fleet.”