Ferries bring in record dollars in fares

Washington State Ferries raked in $54.4 million in fares during the quarter that ended Sept. 30, the most ever, according to the state Department of Transportation’s quarterly report, Gray Notebook.
The windfall was the result of more riders paying more money. Ridership was up 1.2 percent over the same period in 2013. Ticket prices rose 2.5 percent in May and the peak-season surcharge was in effect the whole quarter.
It’d be interesting to know how the revenues translated in terms of farebox recovery, but WSF doesn’t’ calculate it by the quarter because some of its expenses aren’t spread evenly throughout the year. Last fiscal year, farebox recovery was 69.7 percent, up from 66.2 percent in 2012, said finance director Jean Baker.
Bainbridge gained the most riders, up 2.3 percent over the previous year. I don’t have any theories to explain that. Bremerton saw a 1.1 percent increase, Kingston slipped two-tenths of 1 percent and the Triangle route fell a half percent.
Kingston and Mukilteo-Clinton were dead even for the second-busiest route, carrying 16.7 and 16.6 percent of the system’s riders, respectively. That’s just a 9,604-person difference between routes that each carried more than 1.1 million people. Bainbridge, of course, led the way with 26.7 percent. I wonder when was the last time was that wasn’t the case.
From fuller boats come later departures, as it takes longer to load and unload them. On-time performance dipped to 92.8 percent for the quarter, missing the goal of 95 percent. On average, 33 out of 470 trips a day didn’t leave the terminal within 10 minutes of the scheduled time, according to the report.
Bainbridge had 3.8 percent more late boats than the same quarter a year ago. DOT attributes it to access changes and terminal construction. The Triangle was right behind with 3.8 percent more, because of loading challenges at Fauntleroy and the Klahowya’s speed limitations. When one of the the three ferries on the route falls behind, the others are also delayed. Bremerton was next at 3.4 percent.
Only 169 trips were totally canceled, for a reliability rate of 99.6 percent. That’s fewer than two out of every 470 daily trips. The goal is 99 percent.
Had it not been for the Triangle route, reliability would be pushing perfect. There were 90 cancelations there (out of a system total of 91) because of schedule resets. That’s when a boat gets so far behind schedule that a trip has to be canceled for it to get back on track.
Seventy-eight sailings were canceled because of tides or bad weather, 62 for crewing, 37 for emergencies and 18 for vessel breakdowns.
The 62 crewing cancelations were all on the Triangle route or at the other end of Vashon Island at Point Defiance-Tahlequah. WSF is addressing the staffing shortages by hiring and training more deckhands.