Washington State Ferries announced June 22 it will not be adding a second boat to the Coupeville-Port Townsend route as had been scheduled for this weekend.
The holdup is staffing. Like many other industries and businesses trying to bounce back from the pandemic, Washington State Ferries is having a hard time finding enough workers to keep up with the demand for its services.
“We looked at every option, but as we’re unable to consistently provide even our current service due to a shortage of crews, adding service would mean additional cancellations,” the announcement said. “We’re hiring as qualified candidates are located and working with our labor partners on these challenges.”
Coupeville Mayor Molly Hughes addressed the issue during Coupeville’s town council meeting June 22. She said the staffing shortage on the ferries has been a problem throughout the entire pandemic.
“There is a ton of training that is required, especially pretty rigorous safety training, to work on the ferries, so it’s not just a matter of hiring 10 people tomorrow,” she said.
In the Island County Council of Governments meeting the next morning, she expressed her frustration and disappointment that Washington State Ferries has not been able to rectify the issue since it began over a year ago and encouraged representatives from all municipalities to coordinate with their local legislators and write letters of concern to Washington State Ferries.
The council also passed a motion to write a letter of concern from the Council of Governments.
“I kind of feel like that’s all we can do at this point,” she said.