Friday's ferry fiasco explained Featured

When you are told to line up in the U.S. Customs lanes at the Anacortes Ferry Terminal for your sailing to Friday Harbor, you know something is amiss. Friday evening, March 16, things were a bit chaotic at the terminal due to the fact a Washington State Ferry crew member forgot their credential. The Chelan's 4:50 p.m. Friday-only sailing was first announced as delayed. When a replacement crew member couldn't arrive in time, the sailing was cancelled.

However, WSF failed to send out a followup to the "sailing delayed" bulletin, so riders arriving for the 6 p.m. sailing had no warning that the earlier sailing had been cancelled and that it might impact their travel.  A garbled announcement over the P.A. system at the terminal parking lot prior to loading the Super Class ferry Hyak  did nothing to clarify the situation. 

The Hyak, the scheduled 6 p.m. sailing vessel,  was  used to take as many as it could to Friday Harbor. Even with its 144-vehicle carrying capacity, it couldn't take all of the 4:50 and 6 p.m. traffic.

To add insult to injury, the loading system was fouled up and people who had arrived as early as 5 p.m. for their 6 p.m. sailing reservation were left behind, while others who showed up at 5:20 p.m. made it onto the boat. It was clear something was amiss in the lanes when several cars had to back up so the "talls" could get by. 

WSF Public Information Officer Ian Sterling described the situation as a cascading event. Problems built up on top of the missing credential incident.

He said, "The person (who forgot the credentials) and the ferry Captain face consequences."

He couldn't give details as to what the consequences would be since it is a personnel matter. He said WSF would be issuing a quick notice out to all staff reminding them of the importance of having their credentials with them. 

As one of the people who was lucky enough to get on the Hyak on Friday but had friends who were left behind, I think the whole situation could have been handled much better with timely email bulletins, clear announcements over the loudspeaker and careful attention to correct loading procedures. 

If you'd like to participate in survey that WSF does periodically concerning operational issues, etc. consider joining Ferry Riders Opinion Group (FROG)

Washington State Transportation Commission hosts a number of surveys throughout the year to seek out rider's direction, general feedback and information on schedule, fares, and services. By joining our F.R.O.G (Ferry Riders Opinion Group) panel and participating in surveys, you will help guide public policy regarding the Washington State Ferries (WSF) on where it should focus or change things to meet riders needs. Once you register on our site and tell us about yourself, you will able to complete online survey.

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