Just as more people travel again, state ferry service on five runs is about to take a hit.
The large ferry Wenatchee could be out of service for months after a newly rebuilt engine failed and started a fire during a sea trial.
With few backup options, Washington State Ferries plans to shuffle boats starting May 13, which means smaller-capacity boats on several runs.
“When you lose one of your superstars, this is one of the state’s largest ferries, there’s going to be a trickle-down effect,” said WSF spokesman Ian Sterling.
Instead of a 202-car boat, the Seattle-Bainbridge Island run will get a smaller ferry, possibly the 120-car Issaquah.
The Issaquah is now on the Vashon-Fauntleroy-Southworth run, which was supposed to see three-boat service restored next week.
Instead, for at least a month, the triangle route will get a downgrade with a smaller capacity ferry as one of its two boats.
The Port Townsend-Coupeville run will have to wait another month for the restoration of the two-boat service.
Mukilteo-Clinton will get a smaller boat for most of the summer, and one of the Seattle-Bremerton boats will only carry 64 cars and go slower, canceling a midday round trip.
For about a decade, the state built no new ferries.
In the last two years, it retired two worn-out old boats because of high maintenance costs.
“We’re right on the cusp now. We’re able to keep these routes open, but it is very, very challenging,” Sterling said.
Cox Media Group