Nearly 300,000 stuffing onto Washington State ferries for Thanksgiving

Mount Baker and the Edmonds-Kingston ferry. (File photo by Julia Wiese)

Carve out some extra time if your Thanksgiving travel plans include a state ferry ride. In addition to the long vehicle lines over holiday weekends, all passengers should prepare for possible last-minute schedule changes. Edmonds/Kingston route travelers should plan for reduced one-boat service due to limited vessel availability.

Nearly 300,000 people are expected aboard Washington State Ferries Wednesday, Nov. 22, through Sunday, Nov. 26. To avoid potential long waits when boarding a vessel in a vehicle, customers are encouraged to download and check the WSDOT mobile app before heading to the terminal for service updates and real-time conditions.

Ferry travelers should also prepare for possible last-minute schedule changes. Sailings may be delayed or canceled with short notice due to WSF’s current lack of relief crewing or an unexpected mechanical issue within the system’s aging fleet.

On Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 23, there will be a few schedule changes for the Mukilteo/Clinton and Point Defiance/Tahlequah routes. The Seattle/Bainbridge Island run will operate on a Saturday timetable and the Fauntleroy/Vashon/Southworth route will run on two-boat weekday timetables. Holiday sailings are marked on the schedules for each route.

“We are incredibly thankful to our employees for their hard work over the holiday weekend as they do their best to ensure that riders get to and from their destinations safely,” said WSF Deputy Assistant Secretary Nicole McIntosh. “Our online tools, including our WSDOT mobile app, are the best ways to get the latest service information like our rider alerts and real-time map.”

The busiest sailings for vehicles will likely be westbound (or onto an island) Wednesday and Thursday, Nov. 22-23, then eastbound (or off island) Friday and Saturday, Nov. 24-25. To reduce or eliminate waiting, riders may consider taking an early morning or late-night sailing or by using transit to walk or bike onto the ferry if possible.

Edmonds/Kingston route service

The Edmonds/Kingston route is down to one-boat service instead of two as one-third of the system’s 21-ferry fleet is out of commission for either emergency repairs or planned maintenance. With only 14 boats available to operate sailing schedules that require 15 vessels, a boat was pulled from the latest run to be restored in WSF’s service restoration efforts.

Know before you go

Before heading to a terminal or boarding, people driving on board can check terminal conditions. Anacortes/San Juan Islands and Port Townsend/Coupeville routes also offer vehicle reservations.

People using state highways to get to the ferry terminal should plan for potential holiday travel backups and delays by checking real-time traffic information on the WSDOT mobile app or online using the WSDOT travel map feature.


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