To mitigate the loss of the Tokitae and ease the busy Fourth of July weekend, the state is adding additional runs to the Clinton-to-Mukilteo ferry route.
Sailings will be added on Monday and Tuesday, July 3-4. The schedule is as follows: On Monday, an extra sailings will depart from Clinton at 9 p.m. and return at 9:30 p.m.; 10 p.m. and return at 10:30 p.m.; and at 1:30 a.m. and return at 2 a.m.
On Tuesday, the run will operate on the Sunday sailing schedule.
Fourth of July is one of the busiest travel holidays for the state Department of Transportation, Ferries Division. About 430,000 ferry passengers used the ferry service in 2016, the agency reported in a Wednesday news release. It’s expecting another busy weekend this year.
“We’re off to a massive summer start… waits at Edmond’s Kingston have been up to three hours long,” said Ian Sterling, a spokesman for the agency. “We’re seeing that system-wide.”
Recent waits on the Clinton route have exceeded two hours. Part of the problem is the larger of the run’s two boats — the 144-car Tokitae — was pulled from service on June 12 for a federally mandated two-year inspection.
Amy Scarton, assistant secretary for Washington State Ferries, said it couldn’t be avoided.
“We want to thank riders in advance for their patience. This was the only time we were able to squeeze the Tokitae in for its inspection to make sure it’s available for the rest of the summer,” she said, in the news release. “Not only is there limited availability for these inspections, but the work must be coordinated with the scheduled maintenance of the other 21 ferries in the fleet.”
In an interview with The Record, Sterling echoed that, saying the agency can’t simply choose to book the inspection before or after the holiday weekend; drydocks are booked up and the requirements offer little flexibility of when inspections must be completed.
“It’s unfortunate that it fell on this weekend, but it went into service on this weekend two years ago,” he said.