The Jumbo, Super, Issaquah and Evergreen State ferry classes – which carry many of the system’s 22 million annual riders – have new staffing requirements before they may sail on the waters of Puget Sound, thanks to a new directive from the United States Coast Guard.
Washington State Ferries has already added two crewmembers to the Issaquah ferry and will implement the new staffing levels for the others once the USCG issues the revised certificate of inspection for each vessel. The USCG is also adjusting its requirements for staffing levels based on the number of passengers carried on the Super, Issaquah and Evergreen State class vessels.
"We appreciate the Coast Guard’s allowance for variable staffing levels on some vessels based on the number of passengers," said David Moseley, assistant secretary for the Washington State Department of Transportation, Ferries Division. "On some sailings where our passenger numbers are routinely low, we may be able to sail with one fewer crew member, making the system more cost-effective."
WSF is analyzing the costs associated with these revisions. The nation’s largest ferry system has been squeezed financially since the loss of the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax in 1999 but has managed with moderate fare increases and some service reductions, in addition to nearly $1 billion in transfers from other transportation accounts since 2000.