Increase to 'no show' fee DOES NOT start Oct. 1 Featured

There's a bit of confusion regarding the 'no show' fee for Washington State Ferries reservations. Here is the explanation from WSF spokesperson Dana Warr: 

"At its August meeting, the State Transportation Commission authorized WSF to increase the fees for unused reservations.  While the authorization begins on October 1, WSF does not plan to institute it on that date.  We will do public outreach before beginning a higher no-show fee." 

So to repeat, the 'no-show' fee doesn't go into effect October 1, 2019. What the fee will be increased to has not been decided yet. While WSF has been authorized to increase it up to 100 percent of a one-way fare, the decision on the amount of the increase won't be made until after meetings with the communities. 

Before the Transportation Commission meeting, WSF released figures illustrating the problems no-shows are causing. 

Looking at the figures by route in 2018, drivers heading to Orcas Island had a no-show rate of 9.2 percent which translates into an average of 33 no-shows per day. The figure for Friday Harbor-bound travel is 2.6 percent rate or about 11 no-shows per day. For Lopez, the statistics are 5 percent and about a third of a space average per day as a no-show. 

Drivers going to Anacortes from the San Juans had a no-show rate of 7.9 percent which means almost 80 spaces per day were reserved but not used by the reservation holder.

The two charts below show the figures for all of the reservation routes from 2015-2018 and the statistics by route for the Fiscal year 2018 


Fiscal Year Secured Reservations 

  Redeemed Reservations

 Total No-Shows

Avg No-Shows/Day System-wide

Annual No-Show %
2015 534,789 510,864 23,925  65.5  4.5 percent
2016 897,050 848,575 48,475  132.45 5.4 percent
2017 934,900 882,014 52,886  144.89 5.7 percent
2018 956,583 891,988 64,595 176.97  6.8 percent



Secured Reservations

Redeemed Reservations


Average No-Shows/Day

Annual No-Show %

Anacortes 365,749 336,703 29,046 79.6 7.9 percent 
Orcas 131,802   119,650 12,152  33.3  9.2 percent
Port Townsend 144,730 135,145   9,585  26.3  6.6 percent



142,996 134,303   8,693 23.8 6.1 percent

Friday Harbor


147,280 143,387 3,893  10.6 2.6 percent 
Sidney, B.C. 21,830 20,713  1,117  3.1 5.1 percent 
Lopez 2,196 2,087   109  0.3 5.0 percent 
 TOTAL 956,583 891,988   64,595 177.0 6.8 percent 



  • Connie
    Connie Tuesday, 17 September 2019 07:37 Comment Link

    Please don’t increase the rates for no show. I live in Friday Harbor but work off island. I try to make reservations each time I come and go weekly. There are occasions when I can’t get back and miss my reservation. This would be a financial hardship on me. Life is hard enough!

  • steve
    steve Tuesday, 17 September 2019 05:54 Comment Link

    Is a reservation considered a "No Show" if one isn't there thirty minutes early, but still takes the boat as a "Stand by" rider?

  • Donny Reitan
    Donny Reitan Monday, 16 September 2019 06:54 Comment Link

    The number missing in all of those figures seems to be the actual ridership. While it is apparent there are a lot of reservations with no shows, it does not indicate an actual burden on W.S.F.. I have a hunch that W.S.F.s are selling tickets for those open spaces with no problem. I would like to see proof there is a burden on W.S.F. before they decide to fully double dip, or double dupe, the riders who are already dealing with a less than perfect reservation system.

  • Nancy Noreau
    Nancy Noreau Monday, 16 September 2019 05:26 Comment Link

    Seems you're blaming the customer for your messed up ferry system.

    How about a ferry no show fee. If the ferry is late we get the refund. Oh, that's right. . . Sometime there are complications with the ferry so it's not your fault if you are late.

    Well ya know, sometimes there are complications for Islanders too. But hey, you're the government so that's just too bad for us.

    How about double the no show for non-residents and spare the residents. We go off island for a reason 90% of the time, not pleasure. If we break down, the Dr. we are seeing is running late, we get stuck behind a wreck . . . Etc. . . then tough on us.

    At the very least, and I mean VERY LEAST, give us 3 feeless no shows a year. I think that is a decent compromise.

  • Doris M. Sumner
    Doris M. Sumner Sunday, 15 September 2019 21:45 Comment Link

    These statistics prove to me, and should prove to the world, THE WSF RESERVATION SYSTEM DOES NOT WORK!!! The added level of personal stress involved to obtain a reservation, and then the fear of unexpected change in plans due to circumstances beyond one's control causing you to miss the ferry, requiring you to pay a fine if you are a "no-show", IS JUST NOT FAIR!!! The added expense is unconscionable!!! CAN WE JUST GO BACK TO "THE GOOD OLD DAYS" BEFORE RESERVATIONS? If you want/need to travel on the ferry, show up at a reasonable time and usually you are successful. If appointments take longer than expected or you find something delightful do spontaneously, DO IT!!! Take the next available ferry without fear of being FINED. The ferries were user friendly prior to the reservation system. Now if you reach the ticket booth 1 minute less than the 30 minute deadline before scheduled sailing time, you can lose your reservation and can be sent to the back of the line. (There has never been any penalty to WSF for not being on time.) Please, rather than increasing fines, PLEASE REMOVE THE RESERVATION SYSTEM!!! BTW: How much does it cost to operate the reservation system?


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