Washington state ferry system scaling back services amid staffing shortages

Washington state ferry system scaling back services amid staffing shortages
© (JASON REDMOND/AFP via Getty Images)

The Washington state ferry system is reducing service on multiple routes amid staffing shortages.

At least five Washington state ferry routes will be temporarily scaled back beginning on Saturday, according to the state Department of Transportation.

“The change will help offer more predictable and reliable service systemwide in the face of crewing shortages due to a global shortage mariners that has been worsened by the pandemic,” the department said in a travel alert.


According to The Seattle Times, the ferry had to cancel roughly 140 boats last week.

Starting this weekend the Seattle/Bainbridge, Edmonds/Kingston and Mukilteo/Clinton routes will all operate one-boat services instead of two, the Fauntleroy/Vashon/Southworth route will offer a two-boat daily schedule instead of three, and the Anacortes/San Juan Islands route will provide a three-boat schedule instead of four, and it will not offer vehicle reservations.

The Department of Transportation said the changes are temporary, but it did not note how long they will remain in place.

Ferries spokesperson Ian Sterling told the Times that if enough crew members are able to report to work, more boats may be deployed when possible.

“We want to put out as much capacity as we possibly can,” he said.

Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeOvernight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — Boosters take a big step forward Fired WSU football coach suing school over illegal termination Nearly 1,900 Washington state employees quit, fired over vaccine mandate MORE (D) last week said he was concerned about the ferry crew shortages.

“Like other Washingtonians, I am concerned with the lack of crewing on our state ferry vessels and the subsequent missed sailings,” Inslee told the Times.

“It’s unacceptable that these unauthorized actions are impacting people’s daily life when ferry service is reduced,” he added. His spokesperson later clarified to the newspaper that “unauthorized actions” was referring to the misuse of personal leave.

He said he was searching for short-term and long-term solutions to help alleviate the issue of crew shortages. He is also reportedly considering increasing the budget for ferries.