Another ferry breaks down, leads to delays on West Seattle-Vashon route

WEST SEATTLE -- There were more delays for ferry passengers in Western Washington on Saturday. A boat on the Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth route had to be taken out of service because of mechanical issues.

“We were supposed to be on the 3 pm ferry, now we won't be on til 4:40,” says Jackie Jensen.

“We were here just in time to catch the 4:50, and then found out it was delayed,” says Phontel Shami.

“I thought I was going to I was going to be on the 5:30, but obviously it's not here yet,” says Mike Pisuruck.

The story was the same for passengers in West Seattle and Southworth.  They were facing delays of up to two hours today, because one of the ferries serving this route had an oil leak and had to be taken out of service.

“It happens all the time,” says Jensen. “I keep thinking why do we take these ferries?”

“You would think with all the money involved, they would be doing maintenance to prevent unscheduled downtime,” says Brad Effenberger.

This summer, the Washington State Ferry system has had several issues. The Tacoma, a vessel on the popular Bainbridge to Seattle route, broke down in July and is still out of service. There were engine problems on the Elwha earlier this month, leading to cancelled sailings from Anacortes. And just yesterday, a ferry had to turn back to Bremerton because of overcrowding.

“They had to come back because they had too many people on board,” says Pisuruck. “That shouldn't happen.”

Q13 Fox reached out to State Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson. She said “recent missed sailings due to mechanical failures are frustrating for our riders and me. We are working on proposals to further reduce unplanned maintenance without compromising the safety of passengers.”

But she went one to say “these events are indicative of an aging fleet that is intensely regulated by a variety of federal and state agencies.”

At least one passenger agrees that ferry officials are not to blame. Jim Otis says it is up to the legislature to make sure there aren’t more delays like this.

“Everybody complains about taxes, but it costs money to run these things. If you want paved roads and ferries, you've got to ante up.”

Many passengers took the delays in stride, because it was a Saturday. It might not be that way if the route is still running on the two boat schedule on Monday, when more people are commuting to and from work. Right now, there’s no estimate on how long it will take to repair the leak on the Evergreen State.