Printed ferry schedules survive online era

The in basket: When I want to catch a ferry these days, I use the excellent Schedule by Date tab on the Washington State Ferries Web site ( It eliminates the trap, into which I often fell in the past, of overlooking some symbol on the printed schedule that denoted a deviation from the normal schedule that particular day.

It also eliminates the need for a printed schedule, though I sometimes need one to come back, as I don’t have smart phone access to that Web site.

It calls to mind the days when I had a printed schedule in my wallet, in my desk at work and one in the glove compartment of each vehicle I owned. Now I never have one unless I need it for a return trip.

I wondered if the ready access of schedule information online had allowed WSF to greatly reduce the number of schedules it prints.

The out basket: Apparently not. Broch Bender of the ferry pubic information staff sent me a chart that showed 2 million standard print schedules printed for the summer of 2008 and 1.91 million for the past summer,  and 1.3 and 1.18 million, respectively, for the springs of those years. The winter standard print schedules those years showed a more noteworthy 26 percent reduction from 1 million in 2008 to 740,000 in 2014.

Even more noteworthy were the comparative figures for large print schedules, useful to the aging general and ferry-riding populations. There were only 4,000 to 6,000 of those printed each season of 2014, compared to 20,000 to 30,000 in 2008.

I asked about that.

The out basket: Marta Coursey of the WSF public relations said,  “Even in this age of smart phones and tablets, thousands of customers still request printed schedules. In fact, the communities we serve continuously protest we don’t do enough to inform folks who don’t have access to mobile technology. For this reason, printed schedules are still the norm at WSF.

“We decreased the number of overall print quantity for all of the schedules because a number of stakeholder groups commented that large printings are not environmentally friendly and we were seeing large ‘leftover’ quantities of unused schedules.  We actually increased the ratio of large print schedules because our data shows that we have larger and larger groups of middle-aged (48+) customers in need of the large print.

“We are currently using up the bulk of both large and regular print schedules and do not have much in the way of excess/remaining schedules at the end of the season.”

One thought on “Printed ferry schedules survive online era

  1. we have a green team at my office and we are constantly looking for ways to reduce paper… here are a couple of ideas that might help.

    1. print a single credit card or post card size (double sided) that can be picked up on the appropriate boat or specific terminal. that way I am not picking up a complete schedule of all the runs, when i only care about 1 or 2.

    2. don’t put them out where people can just take them… make people ask for them.

    3. post the appropriate schedule as posters or chalkboard at the terminals. I have seen people grab a schedule only to look at it to see when the next boat is leaving and throw it away.

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