Booth empty, but ferry riders still pay

There were no free rides to Whidbey early Monday morning.

Washington State Ferries officials said travelers on the first sailing from the mainland did not avoid paying fares, even though no ferry workers were at the Mukilteo toll booths early on the morning of Nov. 2.

The ferry system was the focus of criticism later in the day from travelers who saw vehicles waved onto the ferry without going through the toll booths.

Ferries spokeswoman Susan Harris said the toll booths were empty because there was miscommunication with the worker who was supposed to man a booth for the first sailing.

The ticket taker did not show up for work because the employee had been on medical leave and didn’t know he had been scheduled to start work that day on the first sailing at 5:05 a.m.

Harris said vehicles were loaded onto the ferry, but drivers paid after they disembarked in Clinton.

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