Washington ferry ridership at highest since start of pandemic

As people start to plan for the busy Labor Day holiday weekend, Washington State Ferries announced Wednesday that ferry ridership has reached its highest levels since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a news release, WSF said that the systemwide vehicle count since the start of the peak travel summer season on June 19 is at 91% of pre-pandemic levels.

Walk-on passengers have been slightly slower to return and are at just 62% of their pre-pandemic levels.

In total, vehicle and walk-on summer ridership through Aug. 28 are at 82% of pre-pandemic levels.

According to WSF, the Anacortes/San Juan Islands, Point Defiance/Tahlequah, and Mukilteo/Clinton routes are closest to their 2019 numbers.

WSF continues to restore service on a route-by-route basis, as outlined in its COVID-19 Service Restoration Plan.

“Unfortunately, our crewing levels are not at a point yet where we can begin adding full service back to our next route — the Edmonds/Kingston route — even on a trial basis,” said Patty Rubstello, head of WSF. “Doing so would put our restored runs in jeopardy. Until then, we will continue to add a second vessel to that route daily as crewing allows.”

WSF said that there will be holiday schedule changes for the Anacortes/San Juan Islands and Point Defiance/Tahlequah routes — as well as the Edmonds/Kingston route if supplemental service is added — on Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 5.