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Ferry system tries to ‘educate’ line cutters

Washington State Ferries is trying to educate motorists about something they should have learned in kindergarten — don’t cut in line.

The ferry system is introducing a new system that allows people to report drivers who cut in line before reaching the toll booth.

Motorists can simply report the offending vehicle license plate and the ferry system will mail an educational letter and brochure to the offending owners.

“We’re trying to combat line cutting, but we’re trying to take the judge and jury out of the toll booth,” said Susan Harris-Huether, program manager for Washington State Ferries.

She said the toll booth operators shouldn’t be thrust into an enforcement situation. When they’ve notice a line cutter, toll-booth operators have sometimes ordered offending motorists to drive to the back of the line, but there has been conflict.

“Many times the situation has descended into a ‘he said, she said’ situation,” Harris-Heuther said.

Now when a toll booth operator receives a complaint, they will give the complainant a card with a number on it to report the offending driver. Once the program starts, Harris-Huether said ticket sellers won’t ask offending drivers to move to the back of the line.

“That’s not the role of a ticket seller,” Harris-Huether said.

Ferry line cutting is against the law, however, and if a Washington State Patrol trooper catches a motorist cutting in line, the driver could face a $124 fine.

Harris-Huether added that most of line cutters are infrequent ferry users such as tourists and often do not realize where a ferry line begins, especially if vehicles are moving in the ferry line. Commuters and regular ferry riders often wait with their neighbors and wouldn’t want to be caught cutting in line.

On Whidbey Island, line cutting is a more serious issue on the Mukilteo-to-Clinton route than from Keystone. On a busy Sunday, there might be around 25 reports of line cutting incidents, Harris-Huether said. The Keystone route benefits from a reservation system which allows motorists to reserve a spot on a ferry route.

The ferry system reporting program begins Sunday, March 28. People reporting an offending motorist should call 877-764-HERO (4376). If a motorist is caught cutting a second time, their information will be forwarded to the Washington State Patrol.

Spring changes

Changes to the ferry schedule include the reopening of the Anacortes to Sidney B.C. run and more service on the routes serving the San Juan Islands.

The complete sailing schedule is available on the ferry systems Web site at www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries. The spring schedule covers March 28 to June 19.

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