Citing staff shortages, Washington State Ferries announces more service cuts – Kitsap Sun

Washington State Ferries has announced plans to cut back service throughout the ferry system beginning Saturday “to provide more predictable and reliable travel,” pointing to what it said were “severe staff shortages.”
Starting Oct. 16, the ferry system plans to run only one boat on Kitsap runs from Bainbridge Island to Seattle and from Kingston to Edmonds. The Southworth-Vashon Island-Fauntleroy route will operate with two boats instead of its usual three. The Bremerton-Seatle run has already been running with just one boat for weeks. Other routes in the system will also see reduced service.
WSF didn’t identify when service would be brought back but called the changes “temporary” and said it would “continue to evaluate and strive to return additional boats back into service on a daily basis.”
“The change comes as the system is exercising maximum effort to crew its sailings in the face of a global shortage of mariners that has been exacerbated by the pandemic,” the agency said in a news release. “The severe staff shortages are also due to many other variables including an aging workforce, COVID-19 cases, and quarantines. Given what has happened to the response to calls to fill positions on recent weekends, WSF feels there is too much uncertainty to continue the schedule at this moment.”
The agency has struggled with canceled runs in recent weeks because of staffing issues and has said it is struggling to find qualified mariners for positions.
“Throughout the pandemic, we’ve worked hard to maintain reliable service, completing the vast majority of sailings,” WSF assistant secretary Patty Rubstello said in a statement. “However, to better reflect the service we can currently provide and to minimize last-minute cancelations due to a lack of crew, we made this difficult decision to adjust our schedules.”
Nathan Pilling is a reporter covering 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.
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