Changes on the Horizon for Fauntleroy Ferry Schedule
By Milo Carr, Reporter | Oct. 19, 2018
The Vashon community was left upset and confused when the Washington State Department of Transportation announced that they would be changing the Fauntleroy- Southworth-Vashon ferry schedule in December of 2018.
This schedule change has been in the making since the fall of 2016 when the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) held three public meetings to gather input from the community on how to improve the Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth ferry route, or ‘Triangle Route’.
On August 15, 2018, after 14 additional meetings, WSDOT proposed two new schedules. The first schedule would require the ferries go from Fauntleroy to Southworth before arriving at Vashon. This proposition adds 20 minutes to the commute time from Fauntleroy to Vashon, not including docking times.
With the second schedule, no ferries would run directly from Vashon to Fauntleroy. Vashon residents who commute on the car ferry to Seattle would first have to take a ferry to Southworth, waiting for disembarking cars to unload and boarding cars to drive on. Only then would the ferry leave for Fauntleroy. This planned route creates a 40-minute crossing from Vashon to Seattle, lengthening times for commutes as well as more critical trips such as medical emergencies.
According to WSDOT, these schedules were created by members of the Vashon community, with everyone’s best interests in mind.
“Knowing the schedule needed to be revised, WSF started working over a year ago with the Triangle Task Force,” wrote Washington State Ferry (WSF) employee Tracy Hagbo.
The Triangle Task Force (TTF) is a collection of nine volunteer citizens from Southworth, Vashon, and Fauntleroy who have worked to design a new, efficient route.
The need for a new route arose when WSF announced that an Issaquah 130-class vessel identical to the Cathlamet will be assigned to the Triangle route in June of 2019. A ferry of this size can carry 124 cars, whereas an Issaquah 100-class vessel like the Sealth can only fit 90.
WSDOT wants to take advantage of the additional capacity the new vessel will have, but it comes at a price. As larger boats require more time to load and unload, the ferries will be unable to complete the same number of runs, and thus a new schedule is required.
“As customers on the route know well, it’s difficult to maintain the current schedule,” Hagbo wrote. “It will be impossible to do so with the third Issaquah Class ferry.”
The schedule change won’t be finalized until December 2018, after WSDOT holds three more public meetings in Southworth, Vashon, and Fauntleroy. Following these meetings, a draft schedule will be posted online, and community members will be able to provide input and feedback. The finalized schedule will not take effect until several months later.
WSF and TTF are attempting to take into account the impact that the new schedule will have on commuters, especially those who have strict time restraints. While they have tried to create a schedule that will satisfy everyone, some commuter students have expressed frustration with the proposals.
“I feel like they were completely inconsiderate to the 200 kids that ride the ferry every day, who already wake up at the crack of dawn and get home at [around] 4-4:30,” junior Jackie Bostock, a West Seattle commuter, said.
Changing the schedule to either one of the options will greatly lengthen the commuters’ day. If the first proposed schedule is implemented, many students will likely need to wake up before 5 a.m. In the case of the second schedule, commuters will be able to catch a morning ferry close to the one they take now, but will face nearly an hour’s ride home.
Community members interested in learning more about these proposed schedules or providing feedback on the changes are encouraged to attend a public meeting on Oct. 24, from 4-6 p.m. in the high school theater.