As Labor Day weekend approaches, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is warning of extended wait times and possible disrupted sailings from crew shortages.
These possible disruptions stem from increasing COVID-19 cases among Washington State Ferry crew resulting in ample numbers of crew needing to quarantine. Furthermore, there is a global shortage of mariners.
According to the WSDOT website, WSF crew who are sick are required to stay home and anyone exposed to COVID-19 also must follow health safety guidelines that can include quarantining at home. This affects already strained crew levels. Ian Sterling, spokesperson for WSF has hinted of a possible “sickout” that could have rippling effects on thousands of travelers.
“We’ve heard the rumors that people may choose not to show up to work – that could keep a vessel from sailing,” said Sterling. “I wouldn’t be afraid to take a ferry this weekend, but I would consider where I’m going. If I’m able to drive around for instance, if I’m going out to the San Juan Islands, book that hotel for an extra day, make sure I’ve got a place to stay,”
Consequently, no new vehicle reservations are being taken on either the Anacortes/San Juan Islands or Port Townsend/Coupeville routes for travel on Friday, Sep.3, through Monday, Sept. 6. Moreover, specific routes will be operating on modified schedules:
- Seattle/Bainbridge, Seattle/Bremerton and Mukilteo/Clinton: Final daily round trip suspended
- Fauntleroy/Vashon/Southworth: Two-boat service instead of three on Sundays only; late-night sailings suspended
- Edmonds/Kingston: Final round trip suspended on Fridays and Saturdays only
- Port Townsend/Coupeville: One-boat service instead of two
- Anacortes/Friday Harbor/Sidney, British Columbia: Suspended until 2022
So, make sure to sign up for ferry email alerts and check terminal conditions before you leave, it might just make or break your holiday weekend plans.
Additionally, WSDOT traffic analysts looked at how many cars were on the road past Labor Day weekends. They say that based on this historical data, the graph shows how many cars (vertical axis) they project to be on the road each hour (horizontal axis) for Labor Day weekend 2021. As the graphs turn from green to yellow, drivers can expect some congestion. During the red hours, traffic analysts predict travel will reach roadway capacity. Once a roadway reaches capacity, any small incident can cause significant backups.
For these purposes, I strongly suggest you and your family take into account these updates before you hit the road.