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Washington State Ferries will continue to use the winter sailing schedule due to fewer riders coming aboard state ferries due to the COVID-19 outbreak in the state.
WSF had earlier planned to switch to the spring sailing schedule, which includes increased service on some routes, on March 29.
But WSF officials announced Monday that the winter sailing schedule will stay in place through April 25, at least.
The added service had been expected for the Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth route (a third vessel on the weekend); the Anacortes-San Juan Islands (inter-island weekend service and added afternoon sailings); and the Anacortes-Friday Harbor-Sidney, British Columbia run (one round trip to Canada daily had been planned).
“We know schedule changes affect many people and we don’t make these decisions lightly,” said Amy Scarton, head of WSF.
“But following discussions with health authorities and state officials we had to make this difficult decision in order to help slow the spread of the virus while still preserving some service options,” she said.
WSF officials said system-wide ridership has been consistently down an average of 40 percent over the past week, which equates to about 15,000 to 30,000 fewer riders compared with the same days in late February 2020 and dates in 2019.
Staying on the winter sailing schedule will allow WSF to get ready for impacts from the COVID-19 outbreak that could disrupt service, including a decline in ridership due to public health recommendations, and the availability of sufficient crew to meet federal requirements.