COVID to blame for canceled sailings

Leader news staff
news@ptleader.com
Posted 8/27/21

Employees with COVID-19 and others who were on quarantine were primary factors in the disruption to sailings across Washington State Ferry’s routes earlier this month.

Multiple routes in …

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COVID to blame for canceled sailings

Posted

Employees with COVID-19 and others who were on quarantine were primary factors in the disruption to sailings across Washington State Ferry’s routes earlier this month.

Multiple routes in the WSF system — including the Port Townsend-Coupeville run — saw reduced service starting Friday, Aug. 13.

Active COVID-19 cases in the agency, as well as continued problems with hiring new employees during the pandemic, were to blame, according to emails from WSF to local officials before the sailings were canceled earlier this month.

“Despite the best efforts of our operations staff, particularly those in our Dispatch Center, we have a severe shortage of crewing available for tomorrow, Friday, Aug. 13,” John B. Vezina, WSF’s government relations director, said in an Aug. 12 email to city, county, and state lawmakers.

Vezina said WSF would combine crews to “provide a limited level of service,” but one-boat service would still be necessary on the Edmonds-Kingston and Clinton-Mukilteo routes.

“We continue to work on solutions, both short-term for tomorrow, and longer-term, but as explained before, we face significant crewing shortages. We understand the impact this will have on our passengers, especially on a summer Friday, and appreciate their patience while we work to increase service,” he added.

In a following email, Vezina noted that there were “multiple crewmembers out with active COVID-19 cases and others required to quarantine due to exposure.”

“Again, we understand the impacts of cancelled sailings on busy summer weekends and continue to work with our crews and labor partners on increasing crewing availability. We appreciate the public’s continued patience while we navigate impacts of the pandemic,” Vezina added.

Disruptions to scheduled crossings continued this week across the WSF system and prompted a number of canceled sailings due to a lack of available crew.

Two afternoon sailings on the Port Townsend-Coupeville route were temporarily canceled Monday due to a lack of crew before WSF announced that ferry workers had been found to resume both sailings.

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