Mukilteo-Clinton ferry route drops to one-boat service

Taking a state ferry is about to become anything but smooth sailing.

If the past few months haven’t already been enough indication, taking a state ferry is about to become anything but smooth sailing.

Washington State Ferries announced Wednesday that it would be cutting back service on several routes starting Saturday, Oct. 16.

“The change will help offer more predictable and reliable service systemwide in the face of crewing shortages due to a global shortage of mariners that has been worsened by the pandemic,” the announcement from the ferry system stated.

The Clinton-Mukilteo sailing is one of the routes affected by the changes. It will be operating with one boat in service for an undetermined amount of time. The cutbacks also impact four other routes in the system, including the route traveling to the San Juan Islands.

The Coupeville-Port Townsend sailing remains unaffected at this time. It continues to operate on one-boat service.

The slashes to service come on the heels of a busy weekend that saw nearly 400 canceled sailings systemwide. The Clinton-Mukilteo route had one boat in use from the morning of Oct. 8 until the night of Oct. 10. As a result, travelers spent several hours waiting in line for a boat.

The ferry system has blamed a spate of retirements during the pandemic and a scarcity of workers for the canceled sailings. It has also acknowledged that the system has been down staff because of employees calling in sick to work in protest of Gov. Jay Inslee’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for state workers. The deadline to be fully vaccinated is Oct. 18.

Travelers will want to check ferry cameras that are available to view for each route on the Washington State Department of Transportation website.

Also on the WSDOT website is a chart listing typical vehicle traffic conditions for each route. According to the chart for Clinton-Mukilteo, some of the busiest sailings fall on the weekend. Leaving Clinton on Saturday, most sailings are marked “often full” or “likely full” from 7:30 a.m. to 7:35 p.m. On Sunday, that timeframe is 9:30 a.m. to 5:35 p.m.

Starting with the 3:05 p.m. sailing on most weekdays, sailings leaving Clinton are marked “occasionally full” and a few hours later, “unlikely to fill.”

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