Larger Yakima Added to San Juan Ferries Route, but Vessel, Crew Shortage Shortens Schedules

Posted June 12, 2021 at 5:30 am by

Contributed Photo/WSF

By Pat­ty Rub­stel­lo, Assis­tant Sec­re­tary, Wash­ing­ton State Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion Fer­ries Division

The 144-vehi­cle capac­i­ty Yaki­ma replaced the 124-vehi­cle capac­i­ty Cath­lamet on the Ana­cortes and San Juan Islands route Fri­day, June 11.

Sys­temwide, we’re work­ing to build back ser­vice to pre-pan­dem­ic levels.

How­ev­er, this will con­tin­ue to be a grad­ual process as we deal with a short­age of work­ing ves­sels fol­low­ing April’s fire aboard Wenatchee and long over­due preser­va­tion needs on many of our aging ferries.

We’re still oper­at­ing a one-boat ser­vice on our Port Townsend and Coupeville route, at least through June 27, and will oper­ate small­er ves­sels than nor­mal on three more runs Seattle/Bainbridge, Mukilteo/Clinton and Anacortes/San Juan Islands through the summer.

With reduced ves­sel capac­i­ties on mul­ti­ple routes, be pre­pared for the pos­si­bil­i­ty of long waits if com­ing aboard by vehi­cle, espe­cial­ly dur­ing peak trav­el times.

If walk­ing on, be aware that we will enforce reduced occu­pan­cy in ter­mi­nals and on sail­ings to com­ply with the state’s direc­tive on phys­i­cal dis­tance stan­dards for pub­lic transportation.

Crew Short­age

In addi­tion to ves­sel avail­abil­i­ty chal­lenges, we’re also expe­ri­enc­ing crew­ing issues relat­ed to the pandemic.

While many of our employ­ees have been vac­ci­nat­ed, we’re still see­ing occa­sion­al COVID cas­es among ves­sel crews.

Fol­low­ing health depart­ment guide­lines, any­one in con­tact with them must quar­an­tine, shrink­ing our pool of avail­able crewmem­bers, par­tic­u­lar­ly those who work in the con­fined quar­ters of our ves­sel engine rooms. We also have employ­ees out for a day or two to receive or deal with side effects from the vaccine.

Know­ing we would face these con­straints, we worked to hire addi­tion­al engine room crew this spring. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, our first hir­ing event only yield­ed two new oilers.

We just com­plet­ed a sec­ond round of inter­views and hope to bring on eight more oil­ers by mid-June. We’re always look­ing for new employ­ees, not just for our fleet. If you’re inter­est­ed in work­ing for us or know some­one who may be, check out our employ­ment page.

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Categories: Ferries

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