A busy holiday weekend has sent a wave of travelers through the Washington State Ferries system, with some encountering pandemic restrictions. And a problem with the Salish ferry on the Bremerton-Seattle crossing over the weekend leaves the route down a ship this week.
The crew discovered that a rudder was not functioning properly on the Salish and were unable to control the ship for a short time as it passed through Rich Passage, the Washington State Ferries spokesperson said. , Ian Sterling.
“The crew did a good job preventing the ship from running aground or colliding with another ship,” he said. “We take this very seriously and are looking at exactly what happened.”
The repairs will keep the ship out of service for the next few days, Sterling estimated, leaving the Bremerton State ferry crossing with only the Chimacum ferry for now. The agency was able to get the Spokane ferry up and running to avoid a major disruption during the busy Memorial Day weekend, but that ship is now on leave for maintenance.
A wave of passengers
Sterling estimated that state ferries carried 80,000 to 85,000 passengers throughout the system on Saturday alone, the busiest day of Memorial Day weekend and “by far” the busiest day of the week. agency since the start of the pandemic.
“We are very close to pre-pandemic levels,” he said. “These have been our busiest days since the start of the pandemic, our busiest days for a year and a half.”
With this increase in passenger numbers, pandemic distancing restrictions that reduce ships’ walking capabilities have prevented some from boarding their desired crossings. Those capacity limits weren’t a problem during the pandemic but did hit this weekend, Sterling said, particularly on the Bainbridge Island-Seattle route – typically a busy crossing for foot passengers – with ” hundreds ”of customers who had to wait for navigations.
Ferries, highways and more:Here’s what the state’s transportation budget means for Kitsap
The state’s Jumbo and Jumbo Mark II class ships, the largest ferries, currently have 450 passenger caps, while the Super, Olympic and Issaquah class ships have 300 passenger caps.
“It was like the good old days,” Sterling said of the busy weekend. “We have gone from pandemic ridership to vacation weekend ridership in one day.”
Nathan Pilling is a reporter who covers Bainbridge Island, North Kitsap and Washington State Ferries for the Kitsap Sun. He can be reached at 360-792-5242, [email protected] or on Twitter at @KSNatePilling.
Consider supporting local journalism in Kitsap County: Sign up for a digital subscription today.