Tag Archives: WSF

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 (www.wsdot.com/ferries/schedule/). 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.”

Seattle ferry off-loading rules puzzle reader

The in basket: Tom Wisniewski writes, “Is there any rhyme or reason in the direction one is forced to go when unloading from the Bainbridge or Bremerton ferries in Seattle?

“Some times you are allowed to select either using the north exit and going up Marion Street or turning north or south on Alaskan Way,” he said. “Other times you are forced to use the south exit and proceed south on Alaskan Way.

“Recently, while watching a Bainbridge ferry unload, traffic was initially forced to use the south exit and then about half-way through the unloading process, drivers were given the option of using either exit, and then the last few vehicles were again forced to use the south exit.

“I once asked a ferry employee about this on a game day,” Tom said. “I was told that since there was so much pedestrian traffic everyone had to go south, which seemed strange to send hundreds of vehicles toward the stadiums if there were so many pedestrians.

“Being forced to go south at times is very frustrating if your business is taking you north or east as the first opportunity to turn doesn’t come until you reach King Street and have to deal with the Pioneer Square area,” he concluded.

The out basket: Here is the rhyme and reason, as provided by Susan Harris-Huether of the ferries public information office. It all depends on how many of what kind of ferry user is on the Seattle dock, she said.

1. When Bremerton and Bainbridge ferries arrive at the same time, Bremerton goes south and Bainbridge goes north. If a Bremerton or Bainbridge boat arrives while the other is offloading, we will adjust the offloading to accommodate both ferries, i.e. stop off loading north etc.

2.  If ferries are running late, we off-load to the south because it is faster. The Marion Street signal cycles about every 2 minutes and adds time to our offloading process. To make up the time, we will offload south as there is more holding room on the dock for offloading vehicles plus the (southern) light cycles are much longer.

3. If there is a great deal of traffic on the dock, including bicyclists, pedestrians from vehicles milling about with their dogs etc., we will off load south from Bremerton for safety reasons.

4. When there is an event at Safeco or Qwest field, we frequently off load to the south and the reasons have to do with Marion Street and Alaskan Way.  Pedestrians cross against the light continually at the ferry intersection and cars block the intersection, which is caused by excess traffic. The same happens at Western and at First, impacting our ability to offload our ferries in eight minutes (remember the two-minute cycle of the light) which results in late departures of ferries.

5. When conditions are normal, we allow access to both the north and north gates.

WSF’s online sailing schedule format changed back

The in basket: Early this year, Washington State Ferries changed its online listing of sailing times, so that a person could click on the date, then select a route and see just all the departures on that route on that date.

It supplanted a page on which the routes came up, and when you chose one it showed all the sailing times for all seven days in a week, segregated by weekdays or weekends in the case of Southworth.

On Sunday Dec. 5, I went looking for a Southworth sailing time and found that the old display was back. It can be misread if one overlooks an icon that indicates a departure runs only certain days – only on Saturday or only Sunday, for example. I’d had t drive around once in the past because that happened to me. It’s even possible, but less understandable, to read the weekday schedule when you’re traveling on a weekend or vice versa.

I asked why it was changed back.

The out basket: Susan Harris-Huether of the ferries’ public affairs office, says, “Many people did not like the choice. They wanted the whole schedule.

“However on the schedule page,  you will see the option for schedule by date.”

I spotted it to the right of the route listings, under Alternative Schedule Formats and was pleased to find the way I prefer is still available.