Ferry ridership surges to highest level in a decade

Ridership on the Washington State Ferries topped 24.2 million commuters in 2016, officials announced last week.

The Bainbridge Island/Seattle route remains the most popular. It carried 4.5 million people and 1.9 million vehicles last year.

“Ridership is definitely on the rise,” said WSF Chief of Staff Elizabeth Kosa. “We are adding two new vessels to the system, however, maintaining aging ferries and providing enough service to meet demand continues to be a challenge.”

State ferries, officials reported, completed 162,327 trips, and travelled 910,610 miles last year – enough to circumnavigate the Earth 36 times.

The largest spike in passenger, car and truck traffic last year was on the Point Defiance/Tahlequah route, where there was an uptick of 5.8 percent over the 2015 totals.

The Seattle/Bremerton route carried nearly 2.1 million foot passengers, the most recorded on the route since 2004.

Ridership continues to increase between Fauntleroy, Vashon and Southworth as well, with 3,059,504 total riders (2.8 percent more than 2015).