SEATTLE – The expected return to service of three ferry vessels over the next two weeks will help alleviate temporary service disruptions occurring now on two major ferry routes.
The 202-car Tacoma, in for routine maintenance, is expected to return to service Friday evening, Dec. 14. That will be followed Monday, Dec. 17, by the return of the 90-car Sealth, now awaiting dry dock availability for weld repairs. And, the 144-car Hyak, also in for routine maintenance, is expected to be back on its route in late December following Coast Guard inspection.
Two other ferries, the 87-car Klahowya and the 188-car Walla Walla, are expected to return to service mid- Jan. and spring 2013, respectively. The Klahowya is awaiting repairs to a propulsion generator, while the Walla Walla is awaiting repairs to a drive motor.
The unusual cluster of several boats out of service at one time has prompted short-term vessel downsizing and service disruptions on the Seattle/Bremerton and Fauntleroy/Vashon/Southworth routes. Customers should plan for longer waits and some delays.
“We appreciate the patience of our customers as we work to return vessels to service,” said David Moseley, assistant secretary for the Washington State Department of Transportation, Ferries Division. “I want to thank our crews who have worked tirelessly to manage vessel moves and the capacity issues on the routes affected.”
On the Seattle/Bremerton route, the 124-car Kitsap and the 64-car Salish are providing vehicle ferry service. The slower Salish requires a minimum of 20 extra minutes to travel between Seattle and Bremerton (average 60-minute trip is now 80 minutes). As a result, the 12:20 p.m. sailing from Bremerton and the 1:30 p.m. sailing from Seattle are canceled this week.
Vehicle ferry service on the Seattle/Bremerton route is supported by Kitsap Transit’s passenger-only ferry, the 118-passenger Rich Passage 1. The passenger-only ferry provides two extra sailings during both the morning and afternoon commutes. It leaves from pier 50 in Seattle and the passenger ferry terminal in Bremerton. The passenger-only morning sailings are from Bremerton at 5:35 and 7:12 a.m., and from Seattle at 6:20 and 7:55 a.m. Evening sailings are from Seattle at 5:07 and 6:43 p.m., and from Bremerton at 4:25 and 5:55 p.m.
The Fauntleroy/Vashon/Southworth route is on a two-boat schedule with the 124-car Issaquah and the 87-car Tillikum. This service is supplemented with unscheduled sailings by the 34-car Hiyu.
Due to the unexpected number of vessels out of service for repairs and the priority of providing regular service, WSF will cancel its annual holiday cruise for people with disabilities, which was scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 15, to bring the Tacoma back into service sooner.
“It is with sadness that we cancel the holiday cruise,” said Moseley. “I know many WSF employees and community members look forward to this annual event. Given our reduced capacity with multiple vessels out of service, we need to return this large ferry to our system in order to serve our customers.”