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Washington Ferry Ridership Continues to Grow

The state's ferry system has seen ridership increases year after year, and a new plan outlines the long-range measures needed to keep up with the growth.
February 13, 2019, 11am PST | Camille Fink
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Christine Majul

Stephen Fesler reports that ridership on the Washington State Ferries (WSF) in 2018 was the highest since 2002. While some routes did see ridership drops, walk-on passenger ridership overall grew by 1.2 percent in 2018 and ridership has increased 10 percent in the last five years.

WSF has struggled with its aging fleet and last year had several breakdowns that took vessels out of service and suspended service on one route. The recently released WSF 2040 Long Range Plan includes a call to acquire 16 new vessels by 2040. The plan, which still needs approval from the state legislature, also seeks to convert the ferry system from diesel to hybrid-electric.

"But the plan is still far short of the expansion needed to support projected growth to 32.5 million annual riders by 2040, a 30% increase in demand; walk-on passengers are expected to grow by 45%," writes Fesler.

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Published on Tuesday, January 22, 2019 in The Urbanist
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