Hordes of Seahawks fans have been making the boat trip from Bainbridge or Bremerton into Seattle smoothly so far Thursday afternoon, said Capt. George Capacci, interim director of Washington State Ferries.
“Everybody seems to be moving on time,” he said.
By 2 p.m., ferry crews counted about 2,500 more passengers than usual, predominantly walk-aboards heading toward Sodo and CenturyLink Field, Capacci said. An extra sailing will be added at 11:30 p.m. on the Seattle-Bremerton run to help fans return across Puget Sound. The last Bremerton trip is 12:50 a.m.
The all-day festivities, including a pre-game concert with Soundgarden and Pharrell Williams, brought a gradual flow of foot traffic onto the boats — unlike Aug. 15, when crowds seem to rush the docks around 4 p.m. for a pre-season game. The crew mistakenly loaded too many people, so a boat had to return to Bremerton, and nearly 500 people had to get off, causing delays though officials said nobody missed the game. There has been plenty of room on the ferries for Thursday’s game against Green Bay, he said.
Things weren’t so smooth Thursday morning, when a 5:45 a.m. trip from Vashon to Fauntleroy was canceled. A mate overslept and the boat sailed with just its crew to the Fauntleroy dock, where it continued — with passengers, said Capacci.
An alert to customers blamed the problem on “operational constraints,” a euphemism for saying the boat can’t legally operate without a full crew. Capacci said the ferries system now avoids phrases like “staffing issues” in rider alerts, because leaders are trying to build relationships with labor and “all ferry workers take the heat.” The employee in question has worked for state ferries nine years and this is his first tardy shift, Capacci said.