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Food sore subject in ferry survey

Washington State Ferries is listening to what its customers say.

Between Aug. 19 and Sept. 20, nearly 7,000 ferry passengers completed surveys. According to a recent Washington State Ferry press release, the surveys were designed to determine customer satisfaction and measure interest in potential new services and amenities aboard ferries and at terminals.

WSF spokeswoman Celia Schorr said the goal of the survey was to turn up potential sources of revenue by finding out what sorts of services riders want.

"Consistent with short-run ferry routes there's less interest in services," Schorr said in regard to Whidbey Island's Clinton-Mukilteo route.

Surveys were distributed to passengers waiting in holding lanes and walking on board ferries. They were also given out during ferry runs.

Surveys revealed 79 percent of full-fare passengers and 71 percent of commuters were satisfied with Washington State Ferries. The most critical factors that influenced customer satisfaction were on-time performance and route reliability, according survey results.

Results show that almost 40 percent of riders would use new services -- such as food courts, bookstores and espresso bars -- if they were offered.

Other areas that influenced satisfaction were cleanliness, enforcement of rules on smoking, the ease of loading and exiting ferries and terminals, clear directions from employees loading ferries and ease of purchasing tickets..

Areas of improvement volunteered most frequently included fare price reductions, more boats and more runs, and better on-time performance.

On the Mukilteo-Clinton run, passengers expressed a high dissatisfaction with food services. Twenty-one percent of those taking the survey thought the price of food in the cafeteria was too high and 17 percent believed the price of the vending machine food was also too high.

The quality of the food was another sore subject with Mukilteo-Clinton passengers. The survey revealed 35 percent of passengers were dissatisfied with the quality of food and beverages on the ferry.

The results of the survey said Port Townsend-Keystone ferry passengers showed they, too, were unhappy with food service. Thirty-eight percent of passengers were unsatisfied with the variety of food available, and 48 percent of those surveyed thought the quality of food and beverages on board was unsatisfactory.

Anyone interested in complete survey results can call Washington State Ferries at 800-843-3779.

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