Washington State Ferries

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Washington State Ferries
Washington State Ferries logo.svg
Seattle Ferry.jpg
LocaleWashington
WaterwayPuget Sound, Salish Sea
Transit typeFerry
OwnerWashington State Department of Transportation
OperatorWashington State Department of Transportation
Began operationJune 1, 1951 (1951-06-01)
No. of lines10
No. of vessels21
No. of terminals20
Daily ridership46,900 (weekdays, Q2 2022)[1]
Websitewsdot.wa.gov/ferries

Washington State Ferries (WSF) is a government agency that operates automobile and passenger ferry service in the U.S. state of Washington as part of the Washington State Department of Transportation. It runs ten routes serving 20 terminals located around Puget Sound and in the San Juan Islands, designated as part of the state highway system. The agency maintains the largest fleet of ferries in the United States at 21 vessels. In 2021, the system had a ridership of about 46,900 per weekday as of the second quarter of 2022. As of 2016, it was the largest ferry operator in the United States[2] and the second-largest vehicular ferry system in the world.[3]

History[edit]

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 caused the KCTC to close, leaving only the Black Ball Line.[4]

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).[5] 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.

Routes[edit]

A map showing the routes operated by Washington State Ferries (in red) in comparison with Washington State highways (in yellow) and freeways, including Washington State and Interstate highways (in blue)
Route name Terminals State route designation[6] Annual ridership[7] Annual vehicles carried[7] Notes
Anacortes–Sidney BC (Temporarily suspended due to COVID-19 restriction) Sidney, British Columbia Friday Harbor, San Juan Island Anacortes
SR 20 Spur
123,001 42,589
  • Reservations recommended
  • Only route that operates internationally
  • Route does not operate in Winter (open mid-March to mid-December)
Anacortes–San Juan Islands Friday Harbor, San Juan Island 2,009,438 947,064
  • Reservations recommended
  • Not all trips serve all island terminals.
Lopez Island
Shaw Island
Orcas Island
Interisland Friday Harbor, San Juan Island Orcas Island Shaw Island Lopez Island
Port Townsend–Coupeville Port Townsend Coupeville, Whidbey Island SR 20 819,285 372,130
  • Reservations recommended
Mukilteo–Clinton Clinton, Whidbey Island Mukilteo SR 525 4,073,761 2,234,650
Edmonds–Kingston Kingston Edmonds SR 104 4,114,181 2,127,315
Seattle–Bainbridge Island Winslow, Bainbridge Island Seattle (Colman Dock) SR 305 6,429,853 1,929,617
Seattle–Bremerton Bremerton SR 304 2,739,926 673,815
Fauntleroy–Vashon Vashon Island West Seattle (Fauntleroy) SR 160 3,059,587 1,738,721
  • All three services operated together as a "triangle route."
Fauntleroy–Southworth Southworth
Southworth–Vashon Southworth Vashon Island 200,672 109,548
Point Defiance–Tahlequah Tahlequah, Vashon Island Tacoma (Point Defiance) SR 163 812,786 473,924

Former routes[edit]

  • Agate Pass, replaced by the Agate Pass Bridge on October 7, 1950[8]
  • Edmonds–Port Ludlow
  • Port Gamble–Shine, replaced by South Point route on June 10, 1950[8]
  • Seattle–Suquamish, discontinued on October 1, 1951
  • South Point–Lofall, replaced by Hood Canal Bridge in 1961
  • Tacoma Narrows, replaced by Tacoma Narrows Bridge in 1940 but reinstated from 1940 to 1950[8]

Fleet[edit]

Washington State Ferry Tacoma
The Hyak in Rich Passage heading to Bremerton, WA
The MV Chimacum arrives in Seattle for the first time with passengers on board, on May 24, 2017.

As of April 17, 2020, there are 21 ferries on Puget Sound operated by the state.[9] 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.[10]

WSF plans to electrify its fleet over 20 years. By 2024, it intends to build 16 new hybrid-electric vessels and convert six others to have hybrid propulsion. This will reduce carbon emissions by up 180,000 tons annually and save $19 million per year in diesel fuel costs.[11]

The ferry fleet consists of the following vessels:[9]

Class Ferry name Year built Auto

capacity

Passenger

capacity

Speed Notes
Evergreen State MV Tillikum 1959 87 1,061 13 kn (24 km/h; 15 mph)
Super MV Kaleetan 1967 144 2,000 17 kn (31 km/h; 20 mph)
MV Yakima 1967 144 2,000 17 kn (31 km/h; 20 mph)
Jumbo MV Spokane 1972 188 2,000 18 kn (33 km/h; 21 mph)
MV Walla Walla 1973 188 2,000 18 kn (33 km/h; 21 mph)
Issaquah MV Issaquah 1979 124 1,200 16 kn (30 km/h; 18 mph) Auto capacity increased in 1989.
MV Kittitas 1980 124 1,200 16 kn (30 km/h; 18 mph) Auto capacity increased in 1990.
MV Kitsap 1980 124 1,200 16 kn (30 km/h; 18 mph) Auto capacity increased in 1992.
MV Cathlamet 1981 124 1,200 16 kn (30 km/h; 18 mph) Auto capacity increased in 1993.
MV Chelan 1981 124 1,076 16 kn (30 km/h; 18 mph) Auto capacity increased in 2001.
Upgraded to meet SOLAS safety standards for international service on Sidney, BC route in 2005.
MV Sealth 1982 90 1,200 16 kn (30 km/h; 18 mph)
Jumbo Mark-II MV Tacoma 1997 202 2,500 18 kn (33 km/h; 21 mph)
MV Wenatchee 1998 202 2,500 18 kn (33 km/h; 21 mph)
MV Puyallup 1999 202 2,500 18 kn (33 km/h; 21 mph)
Kwa-di Tabil MV Chetzemoka 2010 64 750 15 kn (28 km/h; 17 mph)
MV Salish 2011 64 750 15 kn (28 km/h; 17 mph)
MV Kennewick 2011 64 750 15 kn (28 km/h; 17 mph)
Olympic MV Tokitae 2014 144 1,500 17 kn (31 km/h; 20 mph)
MV Samish 2015 144 1,500 17 kn (31 km/h; 20 mph)
MV Chimacum 2017 144 1,500 17 kn (31 km/h; 20 mph)
MV Suquamish 2018 144 1,500 17 kn (31 km/h; 20 mph)

Retired vessels[edit]

MV Illahee was one of the Steel Electric class ferries which were retired in 2007.
MV Kalakala was retired in 1967.

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 Puget Sound Navigation Company (PSN), also known as the Black Ball Line, when the state took over the company's routes and ferryboats in Puget Sound.

Washington State Ferries retired fleet[12]
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) Anderson 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 (1958/ 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 Vashon Anderson 1930 1951 1980 50 646
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 Evergreen State Evergreen State 1954 (1988) 1954 2016 87 854
MV Kulshan None 1954 1970 1982 65 350 Purchased by WSF in 1970, sold in 1982 and renamed MV Governor
MV Klahowya Evergreen State 1958 (1995) 1958 2017 87 792
MV Hyak Super 1966 1967 2019 144 2000
MV Hiyu None 1967 1967 2016 34 199
MV Elwha Super 1967 (1991) 1968 2020 144 1069 Upgraded to meet SOLAS standards for Sidney, BC.
MV Tyee None 1985 1985 2003 0 250 Operating as M/V Glacier Express in Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska as of 2013[13][14]
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

Other ferries[edit]

There are several other publicly operated, private, and passenger-only ferries in Washington state.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Transit Ridership Report Second Quarter 2022" (PDF). American Public Transportation Association. August 29, 2022. Retrieved September 28, 2022.
  2. ^ WSDOT Ferries Division, Washington State Department of Transportation, December 2016. Archived from the original on December 14, 2019.
  3. ^ "WSDOT Ferries Division Fact Sheet- December 2016" (PDF). WSDOT. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-02-21. Retrieved 21 February 2021.
  4. ^ History of Washington State Ferry system, wsdot.com, retrieved March 15, 2008
  5. ^ Washington State Ferries begins operations on June 1, 1951, HistoryLink.org, retrieved March 15, 2008
  6. ^ 2004–2005 Official State Highway Map, Washington State Department of Transportation, retrieved March 15, 2008
  7. ^ a b "WSDOT Ferries Division- overview and fact sheet" (PDF). Washington State Department of Transportation. January 2017. Retrieved May 25, 2017.
  8. ^ a b c "Annual Traffic Report 1960" (PDF). Washington State Highway Commission. 1960. pp. viii–ix. Retrieved March 25, 2022.
  9. ^ a b Washington State Ferries – Our Fleet, Washington State Department of Transportation, Retrieved June 16, 2020
  10. ^ "WSDOT Ferries Division Fleet Guide" (PDF). Washington State Department of Transportation. October 2018. Retrieved November 28, 2018.
  11. ^ "Washington State Ferries System Electrification Plan" (PDF). WSDOT. December 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  12. ^ "The Ghost Fleet of Washington State Ferries". EvergreenFleet.com. Retrieved 5 November 2012.
  13. ^ M/V Tyee, Evergreen Fleet, retrieved 2013-06-28
  14. ^ Our fleet of vessels, Major Marine Tours, retrieved 2013-06-28

External links[edit]