When ferries fail, it’s the San Juans that get the shaft | Letter

I was stranded while traveling alone, on foot, in Sidney, B.C. on Friday, July 11, when someone at Washington State Ferries made the decision to cancel the only sailing to Friday Harbor rather than replace the ailing M/V Chelan with the M/V Elwha.

I was left with no resources and no access to any facilities—no shelter, phone/internet, water, restrooms, etc.  I was a woman relegated to sleeping on a bench outside.

After one week since emailing, coverage on KOMO news, and requests from elected officials, including Sen. Cantwell’s and governor Inslee’s offices, George Capacci, interim assistant secretary, WSDOT Ferries Division, finally contacted me.

In my initial outreach my concern was for passenger safety and what WSF would do to ensure future safety of foot passengers. Those concerns were glossed over in Mr. Capacci’s response and he referred to my stranding as an inconvenience.

WSF also reminded me that I was not entitled to any type of reimbursement as they do not guarantee service.

July 30, WSF posted an alert canceling both July 31 and Aug. 1—two days of the Sidney route—leaving foot passengers in the same situation I shared with the media only weeks ago.

WSF moved a vessel to the Bainbridge route in spite of the policy Mr. Capacci explained to me, “No vessels are moved for the first 24 hours after a breakdown.”

WSF also issued passengers of the M/V Tacoma vouchers for their delay. I paid full price for my overnight stranding when the one boat route, with one sailing to Friday Harbor, was canceled and no vessels were moved.

I am once again seeking answers from WSF and Mr. Capacci regarding policy and why it is that a route still running boats—accessible via a bridge, even—was allocated another vessel in less than 24 hours, and why was a vessel was removed from the islands, canceling an entire route and stranding passengers, without other options, for two days without access to any facilities?

And why were delayed commuters—who still got home—afforded more consideration for their delay than those previously left behind without shelter?

Are there two sets of policy, one for the islands and one for Seattle?

Aunde Cornely

San Juan Island