Washington State Ferries cancels 157 sailings over crew shortage

Friday, Washington State Ferries saw more cancelations than they usually see in an entire year, according to officials.

Staff with WSF say there were 157 sailing cancelations on Friday. On average, there are about four cancelations per month.

Cancelations affected sailings throughout the week.

Ian Sterling, a spokesperson for WSF, says the cancelations are due to a lack of crew.

Sterling says it is an issue WSF has faced for months, and the problem is at a tipping point. 

He says the lack of crew is due to a perfect storm of problems including a worker shortage, a wave of a retirements, and possible impacts of the vaccine mandate. 

Sterling says WSF has hired more than 100 people since the spring, but it is hard to keep up with the turnover. There is now a focus on bringing more people on staff to deal with the crew shortage, he said.

On Friday, the cancelations led to hours-long wait times for commuters.

At the Mukilteo Ferry Terminal the line of traffic stretched through the town.

 "I’m typically a patient person, but I can imagine for some folks where this is their commute it can be tough to live with," said Devin Bowman who was taking the ferry to Whidbey Island.

Several ferry terminals, including Mukilteo, were down to a single boat on Friday.

WSF announced Friday night Mukilteo would be back up to two boats by Saturday. 

However, Sterling says delays and cancelations could be an issue for the next few days. 

He suggests monitoring the current ferry information on the WSDOT smart phone application. He also suggest, if it is possible, to drive instead of use the ferries.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Washington State Ferries forced to cancel several sailings due to staff shortage

READ MORE: Staffing shortages disrupts ferry service near Anacortes

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