File photo

WSF cuts BI, Kingston to 1 boat each due to staff shortages

Help wanted for deckhands, attendants

Washington State Ferries is looking for deckhands, oilers and terminal attendants.

Ferries reduced schedules on most routes in efforts to provide more predictable and reliable travel this week.

That includes on Bainbridge Island and Kingston, which are both reduced to one boat instead of two. Crew shortages have sometimes led to last-minute ferry cancellations, frustrating riders. Shortages became worse after the Oct. 18 COVID-19 vaccination requirement by Gov. Jay Inslee as it was reported Wednesday that 129 more workers left their jobs after that day.

Delays were longer than usual as a result.

According to a WSF news release Oct. 14, the change is necessary because of a global shortage of mariners. The severe staff shortages are due to many variables, including an aging workforce, COVID-19 cases and quarantines.

“Given what has happened to the response to calls to fill positions on recent weekends, WSF feels there is too much uncertainty to continue the schedule at this moment,” the release states. “WSF will continue to evaluate and strive to return additional boats back into service on a daily basis. Ferry customers are encouraged to monitor the agency website, the WSDOT app and social media channels for updates.”

Although COVID has not allowed WSF to hire or train new recruits at the same rate as prior to the pandemic, more than 150 new crewmembers have been brought on this year. Prior to COVID, WSF hired new crewmembers once a year leading into the busy season. The system is now continuously recruiting new employees but is struggling to find qualified mariners. WSF is also expanding its recruitment efforts with maritime academies across the country.

Reduced schedules

M-F Leaves BI: 4:45, 6:20, 7:55, 9:40, 11:30 a.m.; 1:15, 2:55, 4:45, 6:40, 8:20, 10, 1:30 p.m.

M-F Leaves Seattle: 5:30, 7:05, 8:45, 10:40 a.m.; 12:25, 2:05, 3:50, 5:45, 7:30, 9:20, 10:50 p.m.; 12:15 a.m.

Daily Leaves Kingston: 4:45, 6:25, 7:55, 9:35, 11:05 a.m.; 12:45, 2:30, 4, 5:30, 7, 8:20, 9:40, 11:10 p.m.

Daily Leaves Edmonds: 5:35, 7:10, 8:50, 10:20, 11:55 a.m.; 1:35, 3:15, 4:45, 6:15, 7:40, 9:05, 10:25, 11:45 p.m.

Check www.wsdot.com/Ferries/Schedule for BI-Seattle weekend schedule.

Route changes

Starting Oct. 16, the following sailing schedules will be in operation:

Seattle/Bainbridge, Edmonds/Kingston and Mukilteo/Clinton: One-boat service instead of two

Seattle/Bremerton: Continued reduced one-boat service instead of two

Port Townsend/Coupeville: Continued one-boat service with vehicle reservations as normal for this time of year

Point Defiance/Tahlequah: Continued one-boat service as normal

Fauntleroy/Vashon/Southworth: Two-boat schedule instead of three

Anacortes/San Juan Islands: Three-boat schedule instead of four with temporary suspension of vehicle reservations

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