Busy weekend ahead for state ferries

Memorial Day weekend will spur long waits in line.

In what likely comes as no surprise for the seasoned ferry rider, Memorial Day weekend will spur long waits in line.

Washington State Ferries is projecting nearly 350,000 riders between May 23 to May 27, according to information from a press release. Most hectic travel times will be onto an island Thursday through Saturday or off an island Saturday through Monday.

Holiday schedules apply for some routes, including Coupeville-Port Townsend, which has additional sailings at 10 p.m. from Port Townsend and 10:40 p.m. from Coupeville. The route is expected to stay on one boat for the time being.

The hike in ridership kicking off the start of the summer season of sailing aligns with the ferry system’s efforts to recruit more workers post-pandemic. Spokesperson Ian Sterling said about 600 employees have been hired in the past four years.

“Getting back to what things looked like in 2019 is not necessarily our goal,” he said in an interview. “We want to match service with demand with the resources we have.”

The press release stated that the system completed just over 99% of sailings scheduled in January through April of this year, up from 97.8% during the first four months of 2023.