Worker shortage, limited capacity new norm for ferries

Ferry riders frustrated by the lengthy wait times this past weekend for the Clinton-Mukilteo route should anticipate that things might not get much better this summer.

Ian Sterling, communication spokesperson for Washington State Ferries, said many of the other ferry routes have been operating at limited capacity, and the Clinton-Mukilteo and Edmonds-Kingston routes are finally beginning to feel the pain.

Last weekend, the Clinton-Mukilteo route ran with only one boat due to a worker shortage, causing multiple hours in wait times.

“No transportation agency is running a full schedule now, and that includes us,” Sterling said.

Usually the Bainbridge-Seattle route is the busiest, but weekend demand has kept climbing on the Clinton-Mukilteo route since Mother’s Day weekend.

About 100 to 150 ferry crew members are categorized as high risk and as a result, haven’t been able to work because of their age or underlying health conditions. The ferry system has been struggling to find workers to fill their places.

“One person can keep a vessel from sailing,” Sterling said. “There are no extra bodies there to fall back.”

It’s unclear yet whether weekends on Whidbey will continue to have only one boat in operation, but he said it is unlikely passengers will see service levels pre-COVID for the foreseeable future.

“People should really ask themselves if they need to be on that boat or not,” Sterling said. “And they should be prepared to wait longer. It’s not normal times.”

More in News

15-year-old boy arrested in alleged wrench assault

A 15-year-old boy who brought a wrench to a fistfight is facing… Continue reading

Clinton man accused of having images of child rape

A Clinton resident is accused of possessing images of children as young… Continue reading

Man sought on $75K warrant after skipping court

An Anacortes man is wanted on a $75,000 arrest warrant after failing… Continue reading

List of North Whidbey CARES recipients released July 10

Right about now, the Oak Harbor CARES Act grant selection committee should… Continue reading

Volunteer burnout a problem for fire district, according to chief

Availability of firefighters has become a critical need for South Whidbey Fire/EMS… Continue reading

Oak Harbor staff works to clarify zoning code

Island County Superior Court ruled against Oak Harbor’s low-income housing development for… Continue reading

School board planning equity policy

South Whidbey School Board took its first steps towards evaluating its education… Continue reading

Photo provided
                                Des Rock, owner of Useless Bay Coffee Company, dropping off soup to be included in the deliveries.
Food program for children expands to week of meals

A South Whidbey food program providing weekend meals for children and their… Continue reading

Oak Harbor earns 2nd place in NJROTC ranking

The Oak Harbor High School Navy Junior Reserve Officer Corps finished second… Continue reading

Most Read