Survey says: Clinton ferry riders unhappy

Riders of the Clinton ferry are among the most displeased customers in the entire ferry system.

It may come as no surprise that riders of the Mukilteo-Clinton ferry route are among the most displeased customers in the entire ferry system.

According to a winter performance survey completed by the Ferry Riders’ Opinion Group between January and March 2022, riders of the route had a higher level of dissatisfaction compared to other routes. Of the survey respondents who reported taking the route, 74% indicated they were either extremely or somewhat dissatisfied with its performance. In 2021, that total was 20% and in 2019 it was 13%. The survey did not take place in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In particular, riders of the ferry system were disgruntled by the timeliness of departures. According to the survey results, the most dramatic rise in departure dissatisfaction was for the Mukilteo-Clinton route at 70%, which is an increase from a mere 5% a year prior. Similarly, the most jarring increase in arrival dissatisfaction for the route route was 68%, up from 4% in winter 2021.

As one rider who was surveyed lamented, “You never know more than 24 hours ahead how many ferries are running. It makes ferry travel a huge headache.”

Besides timeliness, riders of the route also expressed concern about adequate parking near terminals. One rider pointed out that there continues to be no parking in Mukilteo for ferry riders from Whidbey Island.

Riders responded to the survey during a time when the Mukilteo-Clinton route was mostly operating on one-boat service, which caused lengthy waits for people traveling between South Whidbey and the mainland.

“This route is heavily used by workday commuters, island residents utilizing medical appointments and medical facilities on the mainland, and visitors to and from the island,” a rider wrote.

The ferry system rolled out a plan for service restoration and by May the route was restored to two boats and sailings have since been smoother.

The Ferry Riders’ Opinion Group, also known as FROG, completed a total of 3,966 interviews with ferry riders within the two-month time period.

Of that total, 920 addressed the Mukilteo-Clinton route, with 57% of those respondents being 65 and older.

Other comments on the survey were directed at the ferry terminals’ cleanliness, helpfulness of staff, and coordination between sailing and transit schedules, among other things.

Critics of the Mukilteo terminal pointed out that restrooms are not close to the vehicle holding lanes.

“Bathrooms are almost always messy,” a commenter remarked of the Clinton terminal’s restroom. “There needs to be a more regular cleaning schedule. It was simply pretty gross.”

Another complained of a grumpy ticket taker at the Clinton tollbooth.

For more information about FROG, visit