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A strange declaration indeed,
"What I can reiterate is that the captains can indeed speed up as needed and that the delays are not due to any fuel savings operational concerns."

I have on numerous occasions personally observed ferries here (other than the Yakima) on direct routes with no intervening stops lose time compared to the stated schedule. And since the schedule has fairly tight terminal sharing, even small delays have a cascading effect on other ferries being delayed.