Drivers expected to face extended waits for state ferries over holiday weekend

  • Thu Jul 2nd, 2020 2:43pm
  • News

Submitted by Washington State Ferries

Travelers should plan ahead and prepare for long waits if driving onto a state ferry over the Fourth of July holiday weekend. Several routes are operating on reduced schedules dependent on Washington State Ferries’ COVID Response Service Plan.

The busiest sailings will likely be in the westbound direction Thursday, July 2, then eastbound Sunday, July 5, as travelers return from their Independence Day getaways.

WSF’s current schedules are based on four pillars of service – ridership, crew availability, vessel availability and funding. With more than 100 high-risk employees unavailable due to the pandemic, one of those metrics, crewing, has been a challenge. Due to a lack of crewmembers needed to meet U.S. Coast Guard safety requirements, there have been further schedule reductions over the past few weekends.

“We might be forced to make future temporary adjustments because of lack of crew, but pledge to provide as much advance notice as we can,” said Amy Scarton, head of WSF. “I know how service changes can be frustrating, especially for communities that rely on us as a vital link to the mainland. I ask for your patience during this difficult time, when most counties remain under directives to travel for essential purposes only.”

What to know before hopping on a ferry over the July Fourth holiday weekend

The longest wait times for vehicles are likely to be at the Edmonds, Kingston, Mukilteo and Clinton terminals. These routes often have the highest vehicle ridership in the system on any given day. To reduce or eliminate waiting, riders may consider walking on or taking an early morning or late evening sailing.

Because of the coronavirus, customers who board a state ferry in a vehicle are strongly encouraged to remain in the vehicle throughout the sailing if possible. A face covering and proper physical distancing are highly recommended for all walk-on passengers. To maintain physical-distancing standards, if necessary, we will enforce reduced occupancy on sailings for walk-on passengers.

It is against the law to set off or carry fireworks aboard a ferry.

Travel tips

• Sign up for ferry email alerts.

• Check terminal conditions and WSF’s COVID-19 travel updates before leaving.

• Review the sailing schedules for best times to travel.

• Make a vehicle reservation for the Anacortes/San Juan Islands or Port Townsend/Coupeville routes.

People using state highways to get to the ferry terminal should plan ahead for potential backups and delays with real-time traffic information on the WSDOT traffic app for mobile devices.