Use the HERO line, stop South Whidbey ferry line cutters


Many readers have by now seen the article in the Monday Seattle Times from their “Traffic Lab” regarding ferry line cutters. Several things stand out. First, the Mukilteo-Clinton run is the most heavily traveled in the state. Second, the most reports of ferry line cutters to the HERO phone line are from the Mukilteo-Clinton ferry riders by a huge margin. 353 calls to the next highest, Edmonds-Kingston, at 189. Finally, almost nothing happens to people who cut in line. I am really not interested in the lame reasons people provide. I often have appointments myself and need to get to where I am going in time. If there is a legitimate medical emergency, I have seen a boat leave an entire dock of cars behind and take only one car (a whole other subject).

I believe the statistics on the number of ferry cutters are hugely under-reported. Most people don’t know about the HERO line, they don’t know the number, or they think it doesn’t make any difference.

On the last point I would like to yell out, that if people don’t call in, the Washington State Department of Transporation (WSDOT) won’t ever have even remotely accurate information.

As noted in the article, on the Edmonds-Kingston run, they have a checkpoint voucher program that limits ferry cutters. On our run, for example, if one were implemented, if you got into line at Dalton Realty and there was a checkpoint, you would be given a voucher. When you get to the ticket booth, if you don’t have the voucher, you don’t get on the dock. That may explain why there are so few reports of cutters on the Kingston side where I have seen it in action. Our run, on the other hand, despite heavier use, doesn’t merit such a system (I have written to WSDOT to ask them about this but never received a decent response).

So here is my proposal. Everyone should have the HERO number in their phone and call every time someone cuts in front of them. Here is the number:

(877) 764-4376, or (877) 764-HERO.

Also, please leave an extra note at the end of the call. Tell WSDOT when you call that, one day, there will be a big incident, as people get really mad when someone cuts the line. Do they really want an assault, or worse, a shooting, before they take action to protect the integrity of the line and the safety of their riders? I feel I pay enough ferry fares to think I shouldn’t have to deal with cutters. I know the ferry employees don’t because they fear for their own safety.

Maybe we will eventually get some relief if we all call every time someone cuts in front us. Please make the call.