They should be in a PEMCO Northwest profile ad …
Those determined riders who and burn off stress and calories by walking laps while riding the ferry.
One lap on the Spokane measures 663 feet. Ten laps per trip, and adding the walk up and down the ramps figures out at 1.6 to 1.7 miles. With over three miles per roundtrip, Kingston’s ferrywalkers leave Green Lake’s “Powerwalkers” eating their dust.
Reservation revelations: Last January, full ferry reservations came to the San Juan Islands. Overall, the islanders concluded that reservations worked out pretty well. The system was convenient for planned travel but had some challenges for spontaneous trips. Hotels needed to help tourists with their round trips. They recommended no significant changes until after next summer.
Here’s the background.
In 2007, the Legislature chose reservations instead of bigger holding lots. This move was also expected to reduce the need for bigger boats, making it easier for recreational traffic to shift off peak space.
This was preferable to proposals for predatory high peak-hour fares.
In 2009-10, as Kingston-Edmonds reservations were studied it became apparent that, with over two million cars per year, this was the last route to break in a reservation system. A phased plan emerged.
First, convert existing reservation systems at Port Townsend and the San Juans (commercial traffic).
Then when the bugs were worked out, expand the reservations to all San Juans’ traffic. If that worked, reservations would be made available for all commercial traffic. After all that, reservations would start for the rest of us one route at a time.
In follow-up public meetings this fall to assess how well they worked, several aspects of reservations emerged which are useful to think about.
Staged ticket sales: 30 percent of the boat space was released for reservations two months ahead, 30 percent two weeks ahead, 30 percent two days ahead and 10 percent was held back for standbys.
In general, this worked out though riders lurked out on line to scoop up high demand sports when they were released at 7 a.m. Because of no shows, in practice about 17 percent of the boat was available for standbys.
The staggered release confounded some tourists’ plans when they couldn’t book their rides out and back at the same time.
Show up times: Drivers had to show up 30 minutes early to help dock crews figure out how many standby cars to load.
Reservation cars showing up all at the same time clogged the toll booths leaving cars with reservations stacked behind cars without and no way to pull them out of the line.
No-show cancellations: To reduce double booking cancellations have to be made by 5 p.m. the day before traveling to avoid a fee. While the fee could be applied to another sailing, double booking still happened.
While this grabbed reservation space from others it gave space back to the standbys. So tightening up here would likely require increasing standby space from 10-20 percent.
Software: This needs some tweaking. The 9 percent who became frustrated with on-line reservations phoned instead, causing call center overloads. While the WSF website puts requests in a first-come first-served queue, a techie saw the opportunity for an on-line exchange.
His FlexFerry website allows riders to swap or sell their reservations. While this allows getting a spot at the last moment it can also amount to scalping. WSF is looking into the matter
So this roll out of reservations is working, although it takes getting used to. If reservations come to Kingston it will be many years from now and the rules for how the system works here will need to be tailored to how our route works.