• Washington State Ferry's 'Spokane' breakdown causes hours-long backups

    By: Deborah Horne


    The Edmonds-Kingston ferry run is slowly returning to normal after being down one boat nearly the entire day Sunday.

    The Spokane went out of service at 7 a.m. with an electrical problem, and it didn't come back on line until just before 3 p.m., some seven and a half hours later.

    That was welcome news, especially for those trying to get to Edmonds from Kingston.

    "I was walking up the ramp and I was just standing there," said Elizabeth Sykes of Snohomish. "And I was thinking, 'That's going to be a wait.' And I was worried that I wouldn't get on."

    She wasn't the only one. 

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    "There was like a 25-minute line to get on," said Merysa Lewis of Marysville

    And that was for those walking on.  It was even worse for vehicles.

    "Yeah it was really long," said Lewis. "And then the car wait was four hours. "

    The blame lies with the ferry Spokane. It got hit with an electrical  issue that disabled its propulsion system.

    "It truly is all hands on deck," said Washington State Ferry spokesman Ian Sterling.

    He spoke by telephone while they were still working to get the Spokane back into service. 

    "We've got a whole contingent of engineers working on it right now, including electricians," Sterling said. "Trying to get that vessel back into service as quickly as possible."

    The KIRO 7 archives show the 46-year-old Spokane had a propulsion problem that knocked it out of service back in 2015. Sterling said that is to be expected.

    "Yeah, you know all of these are machines," Sterling said. "A lot of these machines are aging. And you're working on salt water. And they operate 24 hours a day, typically. "

    Because of that, some ferry riders say when they can, they'll continue to walk on.

    "Oh, yeah," said Hailey Warhol of Seattle, nodding vigorously. "Oh, yeah. I wouldn't dare drive.  No, no."

    The Spokane continues to run about 30 minutes behind schedule. But now the wait is just two hours in Kingston.  That's normal for a Sunday night in the summer.

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