WSF long term plan calls for 16 new ferries to stabilize the fleet and provide reliable service; Meeting Jan. 9 in Friday Harbor Featured

SEATTLE – More than half of Washington State Ferries’ 23-vessel fleet is scheduled to be retired by 2040. The ferry system needs 16 new vessels in the next 20 years, including 13 ferries to replace vessels due for retirement and three additional vessels to fill in when other ferries are out for maintenance and to respond to growth.

These findings are among the recommendations of the newly released 2040 Long Range Plan, which WSF submitted to the Washington State Legislature on Jan. 3, 2019.

“This Long Range Plan provides a blueprint to guide WSF’s investments and meet our customers’ service expectations,” Assistant Secretary Amy Scarton said. “We need to invest immediately in building new ferries, developing our workforce and upgrading technology and terminals to provide reliable, sustainable and resilient ferry service through 2040 and beyond.”

The Long Range Plan builds upon WSF’s 2009 Long Range Plan by focusing on a set of investments and service enhancements for the agency to implement over the next 20 years. The plan addresses four major themes:

Reliable service

Customer experience

Managing growth

Sustainability and resilience.

In addition to recommending that the state build new ferries immediately, the plan includes investments in terminal improvements to support more reliable service, a focus on new technology and strategies to improve the customer experience and manage growth.

A greener future

For the first time, the WSF Long Range Plan includes recommendations for greening the ferry fleet and preparing for climate change and seismic events. Based on guidance from Gov. Jay Inslee, the plan calls for electrifying the ferry fleet to reduce fuel use, emissions, noise and maintenance costs.

The plan reflects extensive input from ferry customers, the public and stakeholders, including nearly 900 comments. More than 7,500 people participated in 32 public meetings on land and on board ferries and in two online open houses over the last 18 months.

Next steps

The Long Range Plan will help guide future funding decisions. WSF will use the plan to guide projects and adapt to changing conditions through 2040.

Washington State Ferries, a division of the Washington State Department of Transportation, is the largest ferry system in the U.S. and safely and efficiently carries 24.5 million people a year through some of the most majestic scenery in the world. For breaking news and the latest information, follow WSF on Twitter.

Public meeting Jan. 9 in Friday Harbor

WSF is co-hosting a public meeting with the San Juan County Ferry Advisory Committee from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, January 9 to answer your ferry questions. The WSF Executive Team will present a 30-minute overview of the long-range plan at 4 pm followed by a question and answer session on any ferry-related issues. 

WSF will be represented by Amy Scarton, WSDOT Assistant Secretary and head of ferries, and her entire executive team. The department heads will all be there including the directors for operations, terminals, vessel maintenance and construction, planning and communication, IT, and finance. This is a rare opportunity to have questions answered, and comments heard, by the folks who make the decisions.

The WSF Long Range Plan is available on the web at: https://wsflongrangeplan.com

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