MUKILTEO, Wash. - At the peak of rush hour Wednesday, when ferry passengers expect a quick 20-minute trip from Clinton on Whidbey Island to Mukilteo, Washington State Ferries' newest, most modern boat was drifting helplessly around the sound for more than an hour.
According to a representative, the $144 million ferry Tokitae- which can hold 1,500 people, -- lost one of her engines because of a clutch problem. while en route to the Mukilteo dock.
“On the way back, about 15 minutes out, it stopped.” said Tokitae passenger Joel McBreairty. “So it didn't quite make it all the way in on the way back."
The Tokitae’s captain called for a tug boat to push the ferry to the Mukilteo dock, and everyone was put on hold, including the hundreds in line to board and the 174 passengers on board the Tokitae.
“Some of the (passengers) were kind of angry because they have places to be,” said Abbey Strout, who was stranded on the ferry in her SUV. “I had to get to school, but now, no school for me!"
Passengers told KIRO 7 delays and mechanical malfunctions happen frequently to the Tokitae. A source within the ferry system told KIRO 7 Wednesday’s issue was the 18th time the ferry has lost propulsion, causing delays in the 13 months it's been in service.
"I don't like (the Tokitae) either,” said Sandy Marquise, who lives in Clinton. “It's always late. Always late."
The U.S. Coast Guard told KIRO 7 it is investigating the breakdown.
The Tokitae was taken out of service last year to redesign her ramps after cars bottomed out on the hard angle, scraping the boat and cars.
With the Tokitae out of service Wednesday, the Mukilteo-Clinton line was down to one boat for the night, leading to several sailings canceled.
Officials with Washington State Ferries said the Tokitae will be back in service Thursday with the 5:10 a.m. sailing from Clinton and the 5:35 a.m. sailing from Mukilteo.