The Washington Ferry Coalition brings together ferry riders, community organizations and businesses that recognize the importance of an efficient ferry system to fill the transportation needs of Western Washington and serve as an economic asset for the entire state.

Wash. State Ferries Release 2040 Long Range Plan

Washington State Ferries has released a Draft 2040 Long Range Plan that says the current ferry-build contract should be extended to build five new Olympic Class ferries as soon as possible. 

Ferry ridership is expected to grow by more than 30 percent, from 24.5 million riders in 2017 to 32.5 million in 2040. This increased demand presents challenges to an already overburdened fleet and aging infrastructure.

Between now and 2040, 13 WSF vessels are due for retirement and replacement. Without investment in new vessels, there is growing risk to service reliability that accumulates every year. Even with one-for-one replacement as older vessels retire, the current fleet size does not include sufficient relief vessels to support a reliable system.

As the Long Range Plan says, the time is now for new ferries. The current fleet only supports about two-thirds of the planned out-of-service maintenance time needed for each vessel, and three more vessels are due for retirement in the next seven years.

Letting the current ferry-build contract lapse would mean a delay of up to four years before even one new ferry could be built because the procurement process would have to start over.

Washington State Ferries released the draft LRP in September, and then hosted 11 open houses about the LRP in ferry communities. Public comments on the LRP closed on Oct. 25. WSF released a summary of those comments in late November, saying the “comments received during fall 2018 outreach confirmed public interest and support” for the LRP’s four themes of reliable service, customer experience, managing growth and sustainability and resilience.

The next major milestone is in January, when Washington State Ferries will submit the Final LRP to the Legislature.

The Washington Ferry Coalition urges its members, business organizations, ferry communities, transportation advocates and all others who care about an effective and reliable state transportation system to show their support for the recommendations laid out in the Long Range Plan.