MUKILTEO — A move to a smaller boat may lead to “minor” delays for Mukilteo-Clinton passengers, part of a statewide shuffle as several state ferries have gone out of service for routine and emergency maintenance.
On the Mukilteo route Wednesday, the M/V Suquamish, which holds 144 cars, was replaced by the M/V Kitsap, which holds 124 cars. The Kitsap is usually swapped onto the route this time of year, due to a downswing in winter ridership, said Ian Sterling, a spokesperson for Washington State Ferries. The route was still operating on two-boat service.
“Minor” delays could occur during rush hours, but this is a “fairly minor change” and something those who frequent the route are used to, Sterling said.
The move was a part of a systemwide vessel shift to ensure routes have large enough boats to align with demand. As of Wednesday, there were only 14 boats available to operate a system that usually has 15 boats.
The M/V Suquamish was moved to the Seattle-Bainbridge Island route, which is down to one-boat service due to a vessel needing routine maintenance. Over the weekend, the M/V Yakima also went out of service on the Anacortes-San Juan Islands route due to an electrical issue, Sterling said. It has since been repaired.
A larger boat is expected to return to Mukilteo-Clinton in the spring, but this depends on if another vessel can be repaired in time.
The Mukilteo route was “faring well” during the ferry shortage, compared to other routes affected more severely, Sterling said. The Edmonds-Kingston route continued to operate on one-boat service, resulting in frequent hours-long delays.
“This is a symptom of not having enough boats,” Sterling said. “When a boat goes out unexpectedly, it will have a trickle-down effect on other routes. Unfortunately, this will be the case for the foreseeable future.”