Staffing issues cancel 4 Mukilteo-Clinton ferry runs

MUKILTEO — Four ferry sailings between Mukilteo and Clinton were cancelled Monday morning because of a staffing issue, according to ferry officials.

More than 50 sailings have now been cancelled throughout the system since June because not enough crew members showed up for work.

The ferry system is still investigating what happened Monday but it appears that a dispatch error was responsible for the cancellation of sailings at 5:10 a.m. and 6 a.m. from Clinton and 5:35 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. from Mukilteo, spokeswoman Marta Coursey said. The scheduled relief employee on the route did not get the assignment from dispatch, she said.

In June, the ferry system, to shave costs, cut back the number of staff on some boats to the minimum recommended for safety by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Though it amounts to a reduction of only one employee per boat — in most cases, from 11 to 10 — this has left no margin for error when even one worker doesn’t get to the boat for one reason or another and it’s too late to find an on-call replacement, ferry chief David Moseley said.

Monday’s events brought the number of cancelled sailings on the Mukilteo-Clinton route to 12 since June. Six sailings have been cancelled on the Port Townsend-Coupeville run.

Systemwide, through Monday, 55 sailings have been cancelled and 11 boats have departed late, including one on the Edmonds-Kingston route.

In late October, the Coast Guard ordered the state to add back some staff, to the equivalent of one crewman per route on the jumbo class of ferries, the second-largest. These include the boats that run between Edmonds and Kingston but not those on the Mukilteo-Clinton run. The ferry system has until the end of November to add the staff.

In a concurrent problem, the ferry system today began shuffling ferries between routes to make up for the loss of the 188-car Walla Walla, which suffered an engine meltdown recently after undergoing maintenance. The Walla Walla — expected to be out of service at least until next spring — had been slated to start service soon on the Edmonds route.

Starting Monday, the 144-car Kaleetan was to replace the 202-car Puyallup on Edmonds-Kingston for about a month, serving with the 188-car Spokane.

This could result in longer wait times for people driving onto the ferries during peak times, including Thanksgiving travelers headed westbound Wednesday afternoon and eastbound Friday morning, spokeswoman Joy Goldenberg said.

Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439; sheets@heraldnet.com.

More in Local News

Majority of Marysville City Council seats are contested

The most closely watched race is between Mark James and Donna Wright.

500 tires go up in flames at a store south of Everett

There were no injuries. And it was nowhere near as bad as that months-long tire fire in 1984.

Inclusion super important to Monroe High senior

Sarah Reeves worked to make homecoming more representative of the student population.

A pot deal between teens leaves them injured, facing charges

Police found out about the incident when both ended up at the same hospital that night.

Funds up for council vote would aid conservation district

District stands to receive an extra $1 million each year, if the County Council gives its approval.

Herald photos of the week

A weekly collection of The Herald’s best images by staff photographers and… Continue reading

Lake Stevens man injured by 50-foot fall near Leavenworth

The rescuers had to tie in to keep from falling due to the steep rugged terrain.

‘Welcome to fall:” Wet, windy weather in the forecast

The Weather Service is warning people to prepare for power outages, possible flooding and falling trees.

Paul Brandal, 64, walks with his 25-year-old bison, “Wobble,” across a portion of his 70-acre farm between Ebey Slough and Sunnyside Boulevard Monday afternoon. “He just knows me,” Brandle says about the 1,800-pound animal. “He follows me around like a puppy.” (Dan Bates / The Herald)
From a wobbly calf to 1,00-pound behemoth

Wobble, a huge, shaggy bison, had a precarious start in life but now is the last of his herd.

Most Read