Summer is going out with a bang — and backup — on Washington State Ferries. The boats, which since June have been carrying about 80,000 people a day, are expected to have an extra 10,000 hop aboard over the Labor Day Weekend.
Those who must travel at a certain time, in a car, can expect to wait one, two or even three hours. I’ve never seen a four-hour wait. Who would do that. But then I’d never seen three hours until this year.
It’ll be much easier if you can walk on and/or travel when everybody else isn’t. There’s almost always room for foot traffic, unless you’re coming home from a Thursday night Seahawks game.
The Department of Transportation also offers a few tools that can help. If your last hurrah is taking you to the San Juans or Whidbey Island, reservations are available. Only 10 percent of spaces are available for standby customers, so it’s about the only way to go on weekends, especially 3-dayers.
Terminal cameras will show just how the docks and beyond are filling up. You can sign up for email alerts that tell when a boat’s running late and how long the wait is. That information also is provided on Twitter. The summer sailing schedule shows the best times to travel.
Traffic is approaching levels not seen in a dozen years, when tickets cost half as much. The system carried more than 7.4 million people this summer from June to late August. The Seattle-Bainbridge route was the busiest, moving more than 1.9 million passengers, followed by Edmonds-Kingston at more than 1.2 million.