402 state transportation workers leaving because of vaccine mandate

More than 400 state transportation workers are leaving their jobs because of Governor Jay Inslee’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, state officials announced Tuesday.

The Washington State Department of Transportation said 402 employees left state service because of the mandate.

The largest loss was within Washington State Ferries, which is losing 132 employees. WSDOT describes 121 of those as separations and eleven as retirements.

Facing a crew shortage even before the mandate, WSF began temporarily reducing scheduled sailings on Saturday, removing a boat from nearly every run.

The intent was to provide a more consistent level of service after weeks of unplanned sailing cancelations for the lack of crew.

In the days since the schedule reduction, WSF said it has returned boats to service when enough workers are available.

The three busiest routes, Seattle-Bainbridge Island, Edmonds-Kingston, and Mukilteo-Clinton all returned to two-boat service Tuesday afternoon.

WSF said it added back 35 sailings on Saturday, 61 on Sunday and 40 on Monday.

Earlier Tuesday, delays were particularly bad on the Mukilteo-Clinton run, where the smaller of two boats was running, also due in part to staffing problems.

Some passengers were expecting wait times of nearly three hours.