Fares frozen… for now | Ferry Fare | July

Kingston’s perky Grand Marshal, Bobbie Moore, will push off our Fourth of July parade promptly after the 11:55 a.m. ferry departs.

Expect that offloading the 12:10 p.m. ferry from Edmonds will be delayed along with its 12:55 p.m. Kingston departure. (Schedules on July 4 are all hypothetical anyway.)

Fares hikes forestalled

Because of KING 5 News’ ferry pay exposé, the state Transportation Commission will “defer consideration of ferry tariff adjustments until the various investigations being conducted including the State Auditor’s and Passenger Ferry Association reviews, are completed and the results are reported and considered by legislators.”

When the dust settles expect the usual 2.5 percent fare hike.


Kudos to Spokane’s captain John Tullis who was presented the Coast Guard’s Public Service Award for the ferry crew’s March rescue of two divers at the Edmonds’ dive park.

This award is one of the highest honors given to civilians for preserving life at sea.


Saving fuel on our Kingston-Edmonds ferries isn’t simply a matter of slowing down. Because slowing makes it difficult for ferries to keep their schedule, and because they have diesel-electric-propulsion, fuel-saving on ferries requires a unique approach.

Diesel-electric details: While on most ships the engines directly drive the propellers, our Kingston-Edmonds ferries use diesel-electric drive. This means that the diesel engines drive electrical generators which, in turn, power electric motors that drive the propellers. Because diesels perform best at 70-80 percent power diesel-electric drive allows the use of automated controls that optimize engine combinations for the ferry’s operating speed.

While most power goes to the rear propeller, 10 percent power must be applied to the front propeller to eliminate its drag. When stopping, however, the front propeller is fully powered because ferry propellers are most efficient when pushing rather than pulling.

Although each of the large ferries (Jumbo Mk I, Jumbo Mk II and Super classes) have four diesels, they don’t need all four to reach their full speed of about 18 knots. So the way to save fuel on our diesel electric ferries is to limit the number of running diesel engines.

More details: Jumbo I ferries (Spokane and Walla Walla) have diesel-generators that provide DC electrical power to two separate electrical loops. Two diesels power the “A” loop while the other two diesels power the “s” loop. Each loop in turn powers one electric motor on each propeller shaft so that each propeller is powered by two electrical motors, one from each electrical loop. Since a Jumbo I ferry can reach full speed with three engines their fuel saving strategy is to secure the fourth engine. Doing so saves the ferry about 6,000 gallons of fuel per month. That’s not without a downside as the ferry accelerates and stops more quickly with all four engines.

Still more details: Jumbo II ferry propulsion systems are vastly different from the Jumbo I’s. The Jumbo II’s four diesel-generators produce AC electrical power and all four generators are connected to the same electrical grid which powers the propulsion motors. The Jumbo II’s normally operate with three engines running but they can reach full speed with just two. So on a Jumbo II about 15,000 gallons of fuel per month can be saved by cruising on two engines and starting the third for safety when docking.

Testing on these engine combinations is under way to see what arrangements the ferry captains feel comfortable with and what impact it will have on engine maintenance. The results will be reported in November. So for this and much more neat ferry stuff stay tuned to your Ferry Fare.

Walt Elliott, of Kingston’s Ferry Advisory Committee, can be reached at (360) 297-2845 or elliottmoore@comcast.net.