FERRIES: Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth now expected to remain 2-boats-only service until next year

When Washington State Ferries held an online community meeting this week for its southernmost routes (video above), it included bad news for Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth – WSF now doesn’t expect to restore 3-boat service to the route before “early 2024.” (The previous official estimate was to have weekday 3-boat service back last month.)

Getting in the way are the same twin troubles they’ve been mentioning for months – personnel and vessel shortages. In the former, they still need more licensed deck officers most of all – the system currently has 170 and needs 200 – and there’s a long process to qualify; WSF says it’s doing OK on hiring entry-level crew members. Regarding vessels, one current example was given – M/V Cathlamet had to be pulled from the Triangle Route this week and replaced with the lower-capacity M/V Sealth because of a domino effect that started when the Bremerton route’s only boat, M/V Walla Walla, started having trouble again. (It’s the one that ran aground on south Bainbridge Island earlier this year.) It’s out for two weeks.

Also discussed briefly, the Fauntleroy dock/terminal replacement project. WSF’s David Sowers said they’re still working to develop a “preferred alternative”; in the meantime, you might notice some work around the dock next week – a boat will be working near and under the dock to map eelgrass and microalgae.

13 Replies to "FERRIES: Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth now expected to remain 2-boats-only service until next year"

  • Admiral June 9, 2023 (5:58 pm)

    They require on call employees to have a Twic and mmc in hand prior to applying. For a non-guaranteed job that seems a little onerous. Have lots of seatime myself but no current Twic and don’t feel like spending the money unless there’s guaranteed hours.

    • Jeff June 10, 2023 (8:40 am)

      You nailed it.   I’ll say it every time, if there is a shortage of workers than either the reward is too low or the requirements are too onerous.    Sounds to me like the market has decided not to work for the ferry system. 

  • mnw June 9, 2023 (8:22 pm)

    They need to lower the rates for this continued reduction in service. Totally unacceptable.

  • 1994 June 9, 2023 (10:17 pm)

    Lowering the rates does not help the ferry budget. Metro buses are reducing service but the rates are now reduced.  A service is a service with a set fee.

    • 1994 June 9, 2023 (11:23 pm)

      oops – Metro rates are NOT reduced – *now* was a typo

  • WSrealtor June 10, 2023 (10:02 am)

    Could a regular rider on this route please explain what this means in terms of wait times?

    • Stickerbush June 10, 2023 (5:40 pm)

      Vashon resident here. It’s not a matter of wait time, it’s just that you can’t depend on the ferry service any more. Ferries are cancelled with no notice and there are gaps in the schedule of up to 2 1/2 hours. If you need to be at SeaTac for an early flight, (before 9 or 10am) you need to spend the previous night at a motel to ensure you don’t miss your flight. Add another $200 to your trip budget. If you’re returning from a night event in Seattle, like a concert, there’s a chance the late ferries will be cancelled and you’ll have to spend the night in your car on the dock or somewhere. This hasn’t happened to me yet but it’s just a matter of time. Got a doctor appointment in Seattle? You’ll probably need to take a ferry a few hours before the appointment. End to end time for a 30 minute appointment may be 5 or 6 hours. The disfunction in state government is unbelievable.

      • anonyme June 11, 2023 (11:44 am)

        I live in Arbor Heights and rely entirely on Metro for transportation.  Five hours (or more) is not at all unusual for a round trip with an appointment outside West Seattle.  In this case, a peninsula may as well be an island.

  • East Coast Cynic June 10, 2023 (5:35 pm)

    I would think this will eventually harm real estate values on Vashon.  Why would working people want live on a peninsula where you are at the mercy of the problems of a ferry system that cannot promise that you can get off the island in a timely manner go to work or fly out of town?  At least not until the FAA approves the Jetson’s jet pack:).

    • Ivan Weiss June 11, 2023 (10:20 am)

      Uh, if it was a peninsula you wouldn’t need a ferry. :-)

  • Dwight McCabe June 11, 2023 (10:42 am)

    This ultimately is a result of those low tax folks in the Legislature who refused to fund replacement ferries twenty years ago, thank you Tim Eyman, and persuaded themselves a ferry could last 60 years when they don’t. So we have an aging fleet that breaks a lot, without backups.

  • OnAnIsland June 11, 2023 (4:47 pm)

    The situation is worse than being limited to 75% of pre pandemic service.  Often a bot is cancelled on an early morning run because someone can not make it to work,  We start the day at 50%.  Although the crew is trained to cost guard standards the unloading and loading tines are longer than pre pandemic.  Add another 10 minutes per run until they catch up by deleting another run.  There is the maintenance, or lack there of.  Rust is growing all over the superstructure and even with a preported 200 plus maintenance personnel, the fleet is not recovering from the pandemic.  The incident on the Bremerton run with “contaminated” fuel is another harbinger of the lack of care in the system.  Of course the solution according to this is Olympia is New Boats costing taxpayers millions (now that we can go out of state so expenses are less observed)  They will be electric requiring more time to recharge the batteries.  This will not solve the manpower and training problems that are being ignored by the current management.

  • CWw June 12, 2023 (9:17 am)

    Y’all know you decided to live on an island, right?

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