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July 31, 2014 at 11:12 AM

Ferries chief: Full service to return Saturday

Washington State Ferries will have a sufficient fleet of vessels to return all routes to normal capacity Saturday, interim director Capt. George Capacci said Thursday morning.

The ferry system, which carries 60,000 people a day, currently faces what Capacci called the unprecedented situation of having four boats out of service — following Tuesday’s power loss aboard the M/V Tacoma during a Seattle-to-Bainbridge trip.  He gave these updates in a telephone news conference this morning.

  • The Edmonds-Kingston route, now down to one boat, will gain a second ferry, the Chelan, on Thursday to restore two-boat service.
  • The Wenatchee will return from drydock repairs in British Columbia and make its way to Anacortes, then return to the Seattle-Bainbridge route Friday. (The Seattle-Bainbridge route is back to two boats, because Washington State Ferries (WSF) took one from the Edmonds-Kingston trip.)
  • The Anacortes-Sidney, B.C., line is suspended Thursday and Friday, because the Chelan is being taken to fill in at Edmonds-Kingston. Some ferry riders’ reservations for those trips had to be canceled. But that international route will resume on Saturday.
  • A repair plan will be drawn up next week for the Tacoma, which is now idle at the Eagle Harbor maintenance base.

Capacci was questioned about why the M/V Walla Walla, traveling as the only Seattle-Bainbridge boat on Tuesday after the Tacoma stall, loaded only 600 people instead of the 1,200 allowed Tuesday by the Coast Guard. He said ferry officials need to ensure they “close the loop, ” by having such an order acknowledged.

“The loop didn’t get completed,” he said. “The command didn’t get to the right person at the right time.”  The distance from WSF headquarters in Belltown to Colman Dock is only 1.3 miles, so couldn’t someone have biked to the waterfront to confirm the Walla Walla was departing with 1,200 people?  “An interesting idea; we’ll have to see if we’ve got bikes in the garage,” Capacci replied.

He encouraged passengers to sign up for service alerts at the Ferries homepage, linked here.

Comments | More in Government, Traffic & Transit | Topics: George Capacci, Washington State Ferries

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