In his weekly update, Washington State Ferries director David Moseley had this to say about several canceled sailings last Saturday and what he intends to do to keep it from happening again:
“I share in our customers’ frustration over the cancelled sailings on the Point Defiance/Tahlequah and Vashon Island/Southworth/Fauntleroy routes Saturday, Sept. 7 due to staffing issues. I know each and every sailing is important, and it is disheartening to cause inconvenience to those who depend upon our services. Since the U.S. Coast Guard’s required-staffing increase in November 2012 and March 2013, we have struggled to maintain required crew levels. This has been especially true during our busy summer season. We usually succeed in staffing vessels for our 450 daily sailings throughout the system, but last Saturday we failed to do so.
“Our dispatch center has worked overtime to fill shifts. This last weekend for example, they made nearly 800 calls to fill positions. On any given day there are 70 members of the fleet unavailable due to vacation, compensation time, sickness or injury, Family and Medical Leave Act, etc., requiring us to fill those positions. We were successful in filling most of the positions over the weekend, but it wasn’t enough to avoid canceling some sailings. On the average day, we make about 300 calls to fill staffing gaps.
“We will fix this problem. At the conclusion of the summer season (in about a week), we will begin a process to provide more training opportunities to increase our pool of available crew. We will also discuss with our union representatives the possibility of initiating a “stand-by program.” We will explore all options until this issue is resolved.”