Monthly Archives: August 2014

Ferries made 99.5 percent of sailings, were on time 95.8 percent of time

Washington State Ferries topped its goals last quarter for reliability and on-time performance.
For April through June, ferries completed 99.5 percent of 40,823 scheduled trips. The goal is 99 percent. The 206 missed sailings were 74 fewer than during the same period the previous year.
Tides and bad weather accounted for 108 cancellations, all of them  on the Port Townsend-Coupeville route. Ten different boats had mechanical issues that resulted in 76 canceled trips. The ferry Issaquah, which is normally assigned to the Southworth route, missed 11 in a single day. The route still finished at 99.4 percent. Edmonds-Kingston enjoyed the best performance at 99.9 percent completed sailings and Anacortes-Friday Harbor suffered the worst at 99.1 percent. Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth was at 99.4 percent, Seattle-Bainbridge 99.8 percent and Seattle-Bremerton 99.7 percent.
Crewing issues accounted for 14 total cancellations in the quarter, three fewer than the same period last year.
On-time performance also improved over a year ago, from 95.3 percent to 95.8. The goal is 95 percent.
On average, 19 out of 446 daily trips didn’t leave the terminal within 10 minutes of their scheduled departure time. The San Juans had the poorest mark at 90.3 percent and Point Defiance-Tahlequah the best at 99.7 percent. Locally, Edmonds-Kingston finished at 99.3 percent, Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth at 94.0 percent, Seattle-Bainbridge at 94.7 percent and Seattle-Bremerton at 98.5 percent.
Accordingly, complaints about on-time performance decreased from 40 to 11.
The ferries enjoyed their highest spring fare revenues ever, at $45.6 million. That’s $2.6 million (6.1 percent) more than spring quarter 2013. Ridership was 232,400 (4.1 percent) more.

Inslee wanted to treat booted ferry riders

Gov. Jay Inslee wanted to buy ice cream for the 482 people forced off the overloaded ferry Cathlamet a couple Friday’s ago, but he couldn’t pull it off fast enough. It would’ve been cool to see the line swing from the Bremerton ferry dock to Cold Stone Creamery.
What Inslee and Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson did arrange was to let everybody ride home from Seattle that night for free. That was their decision, Peterson said during a ferry community meeting Friday evening in Bremerton.
It cost $21,000, but might’ve been worth every cent in goodwill. Or maybe it would’ve been better spend on a traffic cop at the Fauntleroy terminal. That was just lost revenue, not including fuel and labor for adding an extra sailing.
The ferry meetings are normally held on Saturdays, but with Blackberry Fest and other events coming up, it looked for awhile like August would go without one.
“We felt there were enough things going on with our ferries that we needed to have this meeting,” Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent said of the get-together, attended live or online by folks from the San Juans to Vashon Island. “And it was a time when Lynn could attend.”
It was the first appearance for Peterson, who stuck around for 1 1/2 hours. She said the overloading Aug. 15 when Seahawks fans were headed for an exhibition game against the Chargers was more complicated than letting too many people on the boat and making them get back off.
“We always have to be be cognizant of safety first,” Lent quoted her as saying, “but she never wants it to happen again.”
In case you missed it, the Cathlamet can carry 1,200 passengers based on the number of life jackets onboard and proximity to other ferries that could help in an emergency. Crew members for some reason thought it had a 1,600-person capacity, and loaded 1,682. The captain pulled out, got a radio call from the dock with the number and went right back in.
I’m working on a story that details when and how passengers are counted, and there’s a new development in the overloading incident I’m sure you’ll find interesting.
Last Friday, the Bremerton boats started about 15 minutes late for the Seahawks’ bludgeoning of Chicago, but WSF beefed up staffing and added an extra nighttime sailing so as not to suffer deja vu, Lent said.
At one point there were two finalists for former ferry director David Moseley’s job and they came to Bremerton to meet the public. Operations and construction director George Capacci, named interim director by Peterson in March, withdrew and former Pierce County Executive John Ladenberg wasn’t chosen.
People won’t have a chance to talk to the next prospects, whose application deadline is Sunday. there’s not time for a public meet-and-greet, said Peterson, who has confidence a hiring advisory committee that includes Lent. Peterson and Inslee will make the final call.
“We want somebody who’s more on the administrative side, to make those tough decisions and be bold,” Peterson told the group Friday.
The director’s salary range is $119,000 to $145,000.
Several other high-ranking positions have also been open for a while, including director of vessels, port engineer, senior port captain and another that WSF wouldn’t confirm Monday. When you hear that WSF needs to clean house, well, much of it is already done. You feel bad that Capacci’s facing a bunch of problems without a full team. At the same time, you have to wonder why so many executives are leaving.