Mukilteo-Cinton ferry service slashed in half this Sunday

The Whidbey Island route will have one boat. Expect long lines. Stay home if it’s not essential.

MUKILTEO — Expect a painful repeat of last weekend’s long ferry lines on the Mukilteo-Clinton route.

One boat instead of two will cross the water between the mainland and Whidbey Island on Sunday.

A ferry will depart from each dock every hour, rather than the usual half-hour, for the 20-minute voyage. The Edmonds-Kingston route will run as scheduled.

Many riders had waits of multiple hours over Father’s Day weekend, when the Mukilteo route ran on one boat all weekend and the longer Edmonds route had only one boat on Sunday.

“I don’t blame people for being upset. Folks have to understand these aren’t normal times,” said Ian Sterling, Washington State Ferries spokesman. “It is supposed to be essential travel only.”

The reduced service is due to staffing challenges during the pandemic with an older, at-risk workforce. There aren’t enough workers to crew the boats. Bainbridge Island, Bremerton and Port Townsend routes already have been operating on fewer runs.

Riders can check a real-time schedule online or through the WSDOT app.

The state agency is hosting a virtual community meeting at 6 p.m. June 30. Staff will discuss the response to COVID-19 and how it may affect the agency’s finances and service plan.

“We are in a difficult time. Not only are our frontline employees working hard for the safety of our passengers, we face many challenges created by the COVID-19 crisis,” Amy Scarton, head of the ferries, said in a news release. “We want to hear from the communities we serve, because they are an essential part of our decision making process.”

Online participants who pre-register can ask questions and make comments during the meeting.

The day after the meeting, a recording will be available online.

More info: bit.ly/WSFJuneMeeting2020

Andrea Brown: abrown@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3443. Twitter @reporterbrown.

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