The Commute

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Ferries tops reliability goal despite issues

May 22nd, 2014 by ed friedrich

The north end of Washington State Ferries took the brunt of service problems from January through March, according to the Department of Transportation’s quarterly Gray Notebook. The system canceled 177 out of 38,726 sailings for a 99.5 percent reliability rate, bettering its 99 percent goal.
It didn’t seem that dependable at times to riders on the Port Townsend-Coupeville route and in the San Juans.
There were 100 missed sailings caused by tides and bad weather, and every one of them was at Port Townsend-Coupeville. When tidal currents run too swiftly — more than 3.5 knots — WSF doesn’t gamble going aground getting in and out of little Keystone Harbor on Whidbey Island. As the boat’s bow enters the calmer water of the harbor, the stern, still in the current, gets spun around.
Eight boats had mechanical problems that resulted in 60 missed trips. Most were from the Sealth breaking down in the San Juans. Steering problems sidelined it for six days and resulted in 29 canceled trips.
Crewing issues accounted for 29 canceled sailings. DOT says its because of the Coast Guard requiring more staff with higher training requirements on several of the boats.
The San Juans also were late most often because the Sealth was replaced by other boats that were too slow to keep the schedule. Its on-time rate was 90 percent compared to 96.9 percent for the entire system.
On an average day, just 13 out of 428 trips don’t leave the terminal within 10 minutes of the scheduled departure time. Four routes, including Seattle-Bremerton, didn’t miss any sailings all quarter.
The system made more money in fares — $32.6 million — than any winter quarter in history.

One Response to “Ferries tops reliability goal despite issues”

  1. Larry Seaquist Says:

    This is just the latest in WSF’s always self-serving reports. While we do owe our crews great credit for their safe, on-time service, the fact is that WSF headquarters mismanagement of their crews, of new crew recruiting and training, and of their own (very expensive) dispatch system has repeatedly left ferry commuters standing at the dock. Regardless of the rubber numbers WSF is serving up, the core problems remain unfixed. To repeat: these ‘fail to sail’ problems are not the fault of our hard-working crews. They result from ferry system mismanagement — something that needs to be on the new ferry system leader’s “must fix first” list.

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