Washington State Ferries will remain operating on their winter sailing schedule through at least April 25 due to lower demand amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
WSF’s spring season, which includes increased service on some routes, was originally expected to begin March 29, according to the agency’s news release. No new spring schedule reservations will be allowed after April 25. Customers will be notified through ferry alerts when reservations will be made available on sailings during the winter schedule extension. No-show fees for vehicle reservations are waived until further notice.
The extension of the winter sailing schedules, the agency said, prepares WSF for the effects of COVID-19 that could disrupt service, including:
- A significant decrease in ridership due to public health recommendations
- Availability of sufficient crew personnel to meet federal requirements
“We know schedule changes affect many people and we don’t make these decisions lightly,” said Amy Scarton, assistant secretary of Washington State Ferries. “But following discussions with health authorities and state officials, we had to make this difficult decision in order to help slow the spread of the virus while still preserving some service options.”
WSF notes that system-wide ridership has been consistently down an average of 40 percent over the past week, which equates to about 15,000 to 30,000 fewer riders compared with the same days in late February 2020 and dates in 2019. Additionally, emergency medical services have been notified of the schedule changes and will continue to have priority boarding as the situation allows.