As part of the state’s response to COVID-19, all state ferries will continue to operate on their winter sailing schedules through at least June 20. Washington State Ferries’ (WSF) spring season, which includes increased service on some routes, was originally scheduled to begin March 29.
The following service additions that were set to begin with the start of the spring sailing schedule will not occur through June 20:
· Fauntleroy/Vashon/Southworth: Third vessel added on weekend schedule.
· Anacortes/San Juan Islands: Interisland weekend service and addition of couple of afternoon sailings.
· Anacortes/Friday Harbor/Sidney, British Columbia: Start of once daily round-trip to Canada.
Previously made vehicle reservations for the Anacortes/San Juan Islands route from April 26 through June 20 will be canceled. Customers will be notified through ferry alerts when reservations will be available again on sailings during this time period. The release of vehicle reservations for the summer season, which was originally scheduled for April 21, has been canceled. No-show fees for reservations are waived until further notice.
The extension of the winter sailing schedules prepares WSF for effects of COVID-19 that could disrupt service, including:
· A significant decrease in ridership due to public health recommendations.
· Availability of sufficient crew personnel to meet federal requirements.
“We know schedule changes affect many people and we don’t make these decisions lightly,” said Amy Scarton, head of WSF. “But following discussions with health authorities and state officials, we had to make this difficult decision in order to help slow the spread of the virus while still preserving some service options.”
Recent system wide ridership has been down about 75 percent, compared to the last week of February. Walk-on passengers have decreased more than 90 percent, while the number of vehicles carried has dropped nearly 65 percent.
Customers can sign up for email rider alerts, check WSF COVID-19 travel updates travel updates and follow WSF on social media for notification of resumption of regular service and other rider information.
Emergency medical services have been notified of the schedule changes and will continue to have priority boarding as the situation allows.
Passengers can help halt the spread of the virus with good hygiene practices – washing their hands, covering coughs and sneezes, maintaining a 6-foot social distance, staying in their vehicles on the ferry if they choose – and by following the recommendations of the CDC, the state Department of Health, and local public health agencies.
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 nearly 24 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 and Facebook.