Local Information

WSF improves technology to handle summer ferry reservations to San Juan Islands

Monday, April 20, 2015 - 15:58

Susan Harris-Huether, WSF communications, 206-515-3460

A team of information technology specialists determined the Washington State Ferries’ online vehicle reservations system stopped working last Tuesday, April 14, because it was unable handle the large volume of customers that attempted to make summer reservations.

To avoid large surges of reservations being made at once, WSF will release summer reservations to and from the San Juan Islands in smaller segments to help shorten wait times online and over the phone. IT specialists also are performing continuous testing and system upgrades that should significantly increase the ability to handle hundreds of vehicle reservation requests simultaneously.

Even though improvements are being made, it is possible customers may experience longer than usual wait times online as well as on our phone system.

Also to reduce online and phone wait times, summer reservations for the Anacortes/Sidney B.C. and Port Townsend/Coupeville routes will be available starting Wednesday, April 22.

For the Anacortes/San Juan Islands summer schedule, which runs from June 14 to September 19, the first third of space on all sailings will be released in six increments according to the following schedule:

Release dates

Available reservation dates

Tuesday, April 28

June 14-30

Thursday, April 30

July 1-15

Tuesday, May 5

July 16-29

Tuesday, May 12

July 30-August 12

Thursday, May 14

August 13-26

Tuesday, May 19

August 27- September 19


Releasing summer ferry reservations in smaller increments avoids overburdening the software to the point where it breaks down. Last Tuesday, April 14, tens of thousands of customers attempted to access Washington State Ferries’ online reservations site. The system was able to confirm 4,441 reservations throughout the day before the reservations system was shut down due to technical difficulties.

“This is a new program and it’s clear that we need to make changes that will allow us to provide timely customer service," said Assistant Secretary for the Washington State Ferries Division Lynne Griffith. “We have learned from this experience and will be adjusting the reservations system so it meets our goal of providing customers the ability to plan ahead and avoid long waits.”

Moving forward, additional summer season reservations will be released two weeks and two days before each sailing date.

Reservations for the spring 2015 schedule, which runs through June 13, remain available. To create, change or cancel a spring reservation customers may go online or call WSF Customer Service at 1-888-808-7977.

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