WSF is working on reservation system and more | Ferry Fare

Reservations will start in the San Juans next summer, excluding Lopez Island. If that works out reservations for Puget Sound commercial vehicles will start in 2016-17.

You missed it!

Kingston’s public ferry meeting couldn’t compete with a spectacular Northwest summer day, so it was only the stalwarts who showed up. Do not despair! By reading on, in a stuffy room with motorcycles going by, while eating a Mirracole Morsel cookie, you’ll reproduce the experience.

New ferryboats

The 144-car ferry Tokitae that we reported on last month has started on Mukilteo/Clinton. The next two 144-car boats will go to the San Juans and Bremerton. That will retire all the Evergreen State boats except Tillikum, which will replace the pint-sized Hiyu as the standby boat.

Tokitae has a hitch, causing some cars to bottom out on the ramp to the upper deck. The fix will be a plate to round off the angle.

The Coast Guard requires two extra crew members on Tokitae in order for passengers to use the sun deck. As these crew members are needed for emergencies, what do you think this sundeck crew could do when there’s no emergency to earn extra money for WSF (

Will our Jumbo ferries be replaced by two 200-plus car ferries, or three 144s?  The former has lower crew costs while the latter gives us more frequent sailings and the ability to reduce off-peak capacity.

Saving fuel

WSF is chasing a grant to hybridize Hyak. This allows the engines to run with constant loads, with the power surges being drawn from a big battery. Because Hyak needed new engines and motors the hybridization will have the feds picking up the tab.

A more promising technology for costs and emission savings is the Liquefied Natural Gas conversion of an Issaquah class boat. The Coast Guard has accepted the plans and the next step will be the design. The LNG tanks will be on the top deck and the ferry will be able to use either diesel or LNG.

As for other strategies, the Jumbo IIs are securing one engine while cruising.   Slowing our boats down, however, stretches out the schedule with only limited fuel savings.


Reservations will start in the San Juans next summer, excluding Lopez Island. If that works out reservations for Puget Sound commercial vehicles will start in 2016-17.

And if that works out, reservations for Kingston-Edmonds will be considered in 2018-19.  Whether that happens or not remains an open question that the communities will weigh in on.


WSF’s approach for this year’s update of their Long Range Plan will be to:

Revise ridership and demographic forecasts.

Review current strategies (e.g. small car discounts, online ferry loading info.), and look at new strategies to manage demand.

Explore different ways of allocating ferryboat capacities.

Look into new technologies (e.g. LNG, terminal automation).

Identify ways to better manage cost drivers (e.g. labor and fuel).

Figure out how to sustain the system financially.

Here’s a few of the other things we asked to be considered:

Fixing the wind chill at the Kingston passenger area.

  • Planning for future ferry crews with training, high school programs, and programs to recruit sailors leaving the Navy.
  • Looking into governance alternatives that will enable WSF to address future needs and issues.
  • Using on-time performance data that tracks ferry arrival instead of departure times.
  • Improving vessel and crew reliability to reduce missed sailings.
  • Planning for grade separation between trains and ferry traffic at Edmonds and for the rerouting of State Route 104 in Kingston.

— FerryFare is written by Walt Elliott, chairman of the Kingston Ferry Advisory Committee. Contact him at