Tough season of ferry travel ends with trouble, two-boat schedule

Ferry travelers have faced a challenging summer that is ending with a two-boat schedule expected to remain in effect potentially through Monday.

The reduced-capacity schedule began last Thursday because of a generator issue on the Hyak. This problem resulted in a shuffling of three boats in the ferry system, ultimately removing a boat from the triangle route.

Last week, many ferry travelers expressed frustration about resulting extended delays and boats continuing to leave with many empty spaces on them.

At Washington State Ferries, spokesman Brian Mannion acknowledged the frustrations of the summer, saying that Ferries is continuing to try to address the problems.

He added that the two-boat schedule compounds the problems at the Fauntleroy dock: larger boats than historically on the run, a small dock and one holding lane.

“It is the same constraints we have had all the way along,” he added.

Addressing the matter of boats leaving partially filled, he said that holding a boat until full could mean an extended wait, particularly if all the Vashon cars have been pulled out of line to the extent possible.

“It is possible to wait a long time with no movement,” he added.

Additionally, if another boat is waiting to unload, holding a different boat reduces the run’s capacity because the waiting boat is not moving passengers in any direction, he said.

Meanwhile, passengers online continued to post photos of long lines of cars waiting, while boats sometimes left less than half full.

The Triangle Route Improvement Task Force, will meet from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 14, at the Fauntleroy Church 9140 California Ave SW, in West Seattle. The public is welcome.