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Keystone ferry to run summer routes - just not as often

"If your summer plans include an evening ferry ride over to Port Townsend for dinner and a movie, you might want to consider just having dinner. An early dinner. Citing cutbacks caused by the passage of Initiative 695, officials at Washington State Ferries have made some cuts of their own to the Keystone ferry schedule. For Whidbey residents, these include reducing the number of hours for one of the two ferries that typically serve riders between May and mid-October, and cutting eight daily runs - four each from Whidbey and Port Townsend. Consequently, the last ferry sailing from Port Townsend to Keystone this summer is now 8:45 p.m., instead of 10 p.m. like last summer.On Whidbey's side of the pond, the last ferry sails for Port Townsend at 9:30 p.m., instead of 10:30 p.m. like last summer.The other six missing runs include:From Port Townsend: 7:45 a.m., 9:15 a.m. and 8 p.m.From Keystone: 8:30 a.m., 10 a.m. and 8:45 p.m. The cutbacks stem from the passage of I-695, ferries spokeswoman Susan Harris said. I-695 reduced license tab fees to a flat $30 but also left a huge hole in Washington State Ferries' operating and capital budgets.The Legislature restored 80 percent of that budget with a one-time, one-year appropriation of $399 million, but it wasn't enough to keep all the ferries running at their former frequency. The Keystone-Port Townsend run has felt the pinch.In past summers we'd have 2 boats running 16 hours a day, said ferry service planning manager Dave Remagen. But this summer we'll have one boat running 16 hours and the other running for 8 hours. The thing that's gonna be frustrating for the regular users is that they won't have that extra 8 hours.Bottom line, he said, is that last summer there were 40 sailings daily between Port Townsend and Whidbey. Now there are 32. Moreover, there will be fewer sailings still in June.Due to the particularly extreme tides this month, 20 scheduled runs out of Port Townsend have been cancelled and 12 runs from Keystone have been shut down. The ferry system will add some runs to compensate for lost sailings.Ferry infoFor more information about ferry schedules, contact Washington State Ferries: (206) 464-6400 or 1-888-808-7977, or visit the internet site www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries."

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