The Jumbo, Super, Issaquah and Evergreen State ferry classes, which carry many of the system’s 22 million annual riders, have new staffing requirements before they may sail on the waters of Puget Sound, due to a new directive from the United States Coast Guard.
Ferries spokesperson Marta Coursey said Monday in a news release Washington State Ferries has already added two crew members to the Issaquah ferry and will implement the new staffing levels for the others once the Coast Guard issues the revised certificate of inspection for each vessel.
The Clinton to Mukilteo route is served by Issaquah class ferries, usually the Cathlamet and Kittitas.
Coursey said the Coast Guard is also adjusting its requirements for staffing levels based on the number of passengers carried on the Super, Issaquah and Evergreen State class vessels.
“We appreciate the Coast Guard’s allowance for variable staffing levels on some vessels based on the number of passengers,” said David Moseley, assistant secretary for the Washington State Department of Transportation, Ferries Division. “On some sailings where our passenger numbers are routinely low, we may be able to sail with one fewer crew member, making the system more cost-effective.”
State Ferries is analyzing the costs associated with these revisions. The nation’s largest ferry system has been squeezed financially since the loss of the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax in 1999 but has managed with fare increases and some service reductions, in addition to nearly $1 billion in transfers from other transportation accounts since 2000.