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Memorial Day weekend travel rush delays some WA ferry routes

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Several ferry routes experienced delays as hundreds of motorists lined up to catch a ferry on Friday. However, the delays eventually cleared for many of the routes as the evening wore on.   

A spokesperson for Washington State Ferries says they are expecting around 350,000 people to travel this weekend alone for the holiday period. 

Passengers compared the waits to those similar in years past.

“We try to get here before the crowds. But, you know, what can you do?,” said Lexie Fleming of Seattle.  

Fleming was heading to Langley for the holiday weekend with her family. They were part of the long line of motorists waiting at the Mukilteo Ferry Terminal that afternoon.  

“My husband is up there with a son and a friend, so, we are kind of piling up there after school and work,” said Fleming. “We always know with a holiday weekend we are going to be in for a longer wait.”

Washington State Ferries reported 1-hour delays at the Mukilteo Terminal early Friday afternoon, 2-hour delays at Edmonds at around the same time, and up to 1-hour delays on the Anacortes / San Juan Island routes on Friday.  

Low tides also caused cancelations for the Port Townsend/Coupeville route on Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings.  

A warning also went out that vehicles with clearance of less than 14 inches shouldn’t travel on some routes due to the low tides. 

Some motorists became impatient, honking their horns while in line. A spokesperson for Washington State Ferries says planning can make all the difference. 

“Travel off-peak, travel earlier in the morning or later at night or maybe on a different day. The other secret, if you can possibly do it, is to walk aboard or bike aboard,” said Ian Sterling, Spokesperson for Washington State Ferries.

Sterling told FOX 13 it is a lean fleet of ferries.   

“We’ve got a 21-vessel fleet right now to really run what we were doing pre-pandemic. We need 26 boats. So, we’re definitely short on vessels. We’re operating 15 right now,” said Sterling.  

“The lot’s full now, so we’ll probably be here for a little while,” said John Gibson, who was traveling to Whidbey Island for a camping trip Friday. 

Gibson and Rachael Shanahan made the most of their time while waiting to get to Whidbey Island.  

“Just getting some work done, answering emails,” said Shanahan. 

Gibson explained his own special formula for calculating the wait-time.

“The lot holds about two boats,” he said. “So, we’ll probably make it on the third one from here….probably make the 6:40.”

Sterling says while everyone was heading east on Friday, they expected it to get very busy westbound on Monday and Tuesday. He says plan on waiting for a boat or two if you are not going to walk or bike aboard.   

Travel bulletins can be found online

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