Washington State Ferries
Washington State Ferries is a passenger and automobile ferry service owned and operated by the Washington State Department of Transportation that serves communities on Puget Sound and in the San Juan Islands. It is the largest passenger and automobile ferry fleet in the United States and the third largest in the world by fleet size. The service is also the largest in the world based on the number of vehicles carried, having carried 11 million annually.
The ferry system has its origins in the "Mosquito Fleet", a collection of small steamer lines serving the Puget Sound area during the later part of the nineteenth century and early part of the 20th century. By the beginning of the 1930s, two lines remained: the Puget Sound Navigation Company (known as the Black Ball Line) and the Kitsap County Transportation Company. A strike in 1935 forced the KCTC to close, leaving only the Black Ball Line.
Toward the end of the 1940s the Black Ball Line wanted to increase its fares, to compensate for increased wage demands from the ferry workers' unions, but the state refused to allow this, and so the Black Ball Line shut down. In 1951, the state bought nearly all of Black Ball's ferry assets for $5 million (Black Ball retained five vessels of its fleet). The state intended to run ferry service only until cross-sound bridges could be built, but these were never approved, and the Washington State Department of Transportation runs the system to this day.
As of 2012, there are 22 ferries on Puget Sound operated by the state. The largest vessels in this fleet carry up to 2500 passengers and 202 vehicles. They are painted in a distinctive white and green trim paint scheme, and feature double-ended open vehicle decks and bridges at each end so that they do not need to turn around.
The ferry fleet consists of the following vessels:
|Ferry Name||Class||Year Built (Rebuilt)||Auto Capacity||Passenger Capacity||Notes|
|MV Chetzemoka||Kwa-di Tabil||2010||64||750|
|MV Salish||Kwa-di Tabil||2011||64||750|
|MV Kennewick||Kwa-di Tabil||2011||64||750|
|MV Klahowya||Evergreen State||1958 (1995)||87||800|
|MV Tillikum||Evergreen State||1959 (1994)||87||1061|
|MV Sealth||Issaquah 100||1982 (2006)||90||1200|
|MV Issaquah||Issaquah 130||1979 (1989)||124||1200||Auto capacity increased to 124 in 1989|
|MV Kittitas||Issaquah 130||1980 (1990)||124||1200||Auto capacity increased to 124 in 1990|
|MV Kitsap||Issaquah 130||1980 (1992)||124||1200||Auto capacity increased to 124 in 1992|
|MV Cathlamet||Issaquah 130||1981 (1993)||124||1200||Auto capacity increased to 124 in 1993|
|MV Chelan||Issaquah 130||1981 (2004)||124||1090||Auto capacity increased to 124 in 2001|
|MV Samish||Olympic||2014||144||1500||Currently under construction, to be in service by early 2015|
|MV Kaleetan||Super||1967 (1999)||144||2000|
|MV Yakima||Super||1967 (2000)||144||2000|
|MV Elwha||Super||1968 (1991)||144||1090|
|MV Spokane||Jumbo||1972 (2003)||188||2000|
|MV Walla Walla||Jumbo||1972||188||2000|
|MV Tacoma||Jumbo Mark II||1997||202||2500|
|MV Wenatchee||Jumbo Mark II||1998||202||2500|
|MV Puyallup||Jumbo Mark II||1999||202||2500|
Since the beginning of state-run ferry service in 1951, WSF has retired many vessels as they have become older, too expensive to operate or maintain, or have become too small to provide adequate ferry service. WSF owned passenger-only vessels between 1985 and 2009, but after discontinuing its two passenger-only routes in the 2000s, WSF has sold its passenger-only ferries to other operators.
Below is a list of ferries that WSF has retired since 1951. Unless otherwise noted, all vessels introduced in 1951 were acquired from the Black Ball Line when the state took over the company's routes and ferryboats in Puget Sound.
|Ferry Name||Class||Year Built (Rebuilt)||Year in service||Year Retired||Auto Capacity||Passenger Capacity||Notes|
|MV Chippewa||None||1900 (1928/ 1932)||1951||1964||52||950||Converted to a car ferry in 1926|
|MV Leschi||None||1913||1951||1967||40||453||Previously owned by King County and used on Lake Washington|
|SS San Mateo||None||1922||1951||1969||50||659||Purchased by PSN in 1941|
|SS Shasta||None||1922||1951||1958||55||468||Purchased by PSN in 1941|
|MV Rosario||None||1923 (1931)||1951||1951||33||312|
|MV Kitsap (1925)||None||1925||1951||1961||32||325|
|MV Crosline||None||1925 (1947)||1951||1967||30||300||Purchased by the state in 1947|
|MV Kehloken||Wood Electric||1926||1951||1972||50||770||Purchased by PSN in 1940|
|MV Kalakala||None||1926 (1935)||1951||1967||110||1943||Originally built as MV Peralta in 1926; rebuilt as Kalakala in 1935 using Peralta's hull|
|MV Enetai||Steel Electric||1927||1951||1967||90||1500||Purchased by PSN in 1940 and converted to a single-ended ferry|
|MV Willapa||Steel Electric||1927||1951||1967||90||1500||Purchased by PSN in 1940 and converted to a single-ended ferry|
|MV Chetzemoka (1927)||Wood Electric||1927||1951||1973||50||400||Purchased by PSN in 1938|
|MV Quinault||Steel Electric||1927 (1958/ 1985)||1951||2007||59||616||Purchased by PSN in 1940|
|MV Illahee||Steel Electric||1927 (1958/ 1986)||1951||2007||59||616||Purchased by PSN in 1940|
|MV Nisqually||Steel Electric||1927 (1958/ 1987)||1951||2007||59||616||Purchased by PSN in 1940|
|MV Klickitat||Steel Electric||1927 (1981)||1951||2007||64||412||Purchased by PSN in 1940|
|MV Klahanie||Wood Electric||1928||1951||1972||50||601||Purchased by PSN in 1940|
|MV Skansonia||None||1929||1951||1969||32||465||Operated under a state contract since 1940 after the Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapsed|
|MV Olympic||None||1938||1954||1993||55||605||Purchased by WSF in 1954|
|MV Rhododendron||None||1947 (1990)||1954||2012||48||546||Purchased by WSF in 1954, sold to Atlantic Capes Fisheries in 2013|
|MV Kulshan||None||1954||1970||1982||65||350||Purchased by WSF in 1970, sold in 1982 and renamed MV Governor|
|MV Tyee||None||1985||1985||2003||0||250||Operating as M/V Glacier Express in Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska as of 2013|
|MV Kalama||Skagit/ Kalama||1989||1989||2009||0||230||Sold in 2011|
|MV Skagit||Skagit/ Kalama||1989||1989||2009||0||230||Sold in 2011; capsized on July 18, 2012|
|MV Chinook||Passenger-Only Fast Ferry||1998||1998||2008||0||350||Sold to Golden Gate Ferries, renamed MV Golden Gate|
|MV Snohomish||Passenger-Only Fast Ferry||1999||1999||2008||0||350||Sold to Golden Gate Ferries, renamed MV Napa|
|MV Evergreen State||Evergreen State||1954 (1988)||1954||2014||87||983|
- Seattle-Bremerton (SR 304)
- Seattle-Bainbridge Island (SR 305)
- Southworth to Vashon Island to Fauntleroy (West Seattle) (SR 160)
- Point Defiance-Tahlequah (south end of Vashon Island) (SR 163)
- Clinton to Mukilteo (SR 525)
- Edmonds-Kingston (SR 104)
- Keystone to Port Townsend (State Route 20)
- Anacortes to (any or all of the following [in most common route order]) (SR 20 Spur)
From October 1986 to September 9, 1989 and from April 23, 1990 to Sept. 21, 2003 a passenger-only service ran on the Seattle-Bremerton route. It was shut down because of limited profitability and because of continued lawsuits of residents living on the waterway used by the ferry to prevent the high-speed ferries built for the run from running at their full speed. The slower speed made the crossing time similar or equal to the auto ferry operating on the same route, making the passenger-only service redundant.
The current passenger-only ferry route between Seattle and Vashon Island is designated State Route 339, with no road portion at either end. This route is no longer operated by Washington State Ferries, as responsibility was passed to the King County Marine Division in fall of 2009.
There are several other publicly operated, private, and passenger-only ferries in Washington state.
- "An Introduction To The Largest Ferry System In The Nation" (PDF). Washington State Ferries, Customer and Community Relations. May 2007. p. 2. Retrieved 2008-04-18.
- "Washington State Department of Transportation Ferries Division Begins Implementation of Quintiq". Quintiq. February 23, 2009. Retrieved November 7, 2010.
- History of Washington State Ferry system, wsdot.com, retrieved March 15, 2008
- Washington State Ferries begins operations on June 1, 1951, HistoryLink.org, retrieved March 15, 2008
- Washington State Ferries - Our Fleet, wsdot.com, Retrieved November 4, 2012
- "The Ghost Fleet of Washington State Ferries". EvergreenFleet.com. Retrieved 5 November 2012.
- M/V Tyee, Evergreen Fleet, retrieved 2013-06-28
- Our fleet of vessels, Major Marine Tours, retrieved 2013-06-28
- 2004-2005 Official State Highway Map, Washington State Department of Transportation, retrieved March 15, 2008
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Washington State Ferries.|
- Official website
- Evergreenfleet.com-- A History of Washington State Ferries Past and Present
- Vehicle Reservation Predesign Study