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ADA & Medical Travel

Welcome aboard Washington State Ferries (WSF). Washington State Ferries is something to everyone - a highway, a transit system or an adventure.

Over the last several years WSF has worked hard to make your sailing experience more accessible. This information is meant to be a reference for persons with disabilities, senior citizens, advocates and service agencies. To make your journey with WSF more accessible and user-friendly use the links below to assist in your travels:

ADA Reduced Fares
People with disabilities may qualify for reduced passenger fares on any route. Those who also require attendant care while traveling must obtain an endorsement to allow their attendant to travel free as a passenger. Vehicle fares are not discounted.

The day of your trip arrive early 
Arrive at the terminal at least 20 minutes in advance of the sailing. A ticket seller may not notice your disabled license plate or placard, so please bring it to our attention. Show the necessary permits if you are requesting a discounted fare, and ask about specific accommodation, if necessary. We will do our best to meet your needs, but accommodations for all passengers are made on a first-come, space-available basis.

WSF is in the process of upgrading and re-evaluating our service for disabled passengers. Although we are a "work in progress," we are striving to provide opportunities for people with disabilities to conveniently access and use the ferry system.

Each vessel and terminal in the WSF fleet is unique. Some are new; others have recently been refurbished. To maximize access, you need to combine the use of terminal and vessel facilities. This guide will give you enough information to make realistic choices about your use of the ferry system.

Fleet Information
Our fleet is comprised of 22 vessels that vary widely in age and design. Accessibility for disabled passengers is very dependent on the age and renovation status of the vessel.

Call us before you sail

Planning ahead is the best way to ensure comfortable travel. The combination of vessels and terminals that you use will affect your trip. First, review the terminal accessibility page.

In order to best ensure that passengers with disabilities are accommodated to the fullest extent possible, WSF recommends, but does not require that you contact us in advance. At least 24 hours in advance of your departure, call our customer information staff at 206-464-6400. Tell us the route and the approximate time you wish to travel (for example, Seattle to Bainbridge Island in the afternoon hours). We can tell you which vessels will be serving the route, and the physical layout of the ferry.

Vessels are assigned to different routes - sometimes on extremely short notice - depending on time of year and vessel maintenance and repair needs. We can give you recommendations for sailing times and identify vessels and terminals that best accommodate your needs.

Service Animals
Animals, except service animals, are not allowed in terminal buildings or above the vehicle decks, unless they are in a pet carrier; however, they are permitted on the exposed upper decks of vessels on some routes (see our Animals, except service animals, are not allowed in terminal buildings or above the vehicle decks, unless they are in a pet carrier; however, they are permitted on the exposed upper decks of vessels on some routes (see our pet policy page for details). Contact terminal staff for loading procedures as vessel and terminal configurations vary. Animals that are not people-friendly should be muzzled or transported in
a pet carrier.

We offer seniors (65+), persons with disabilities and passengers with a Medicare card or other eligibility verification, travel at half the regular passenger fare rate. The vehicle portion of the fare is not discounted.

To receive this rate, you must present your WSF Disability Permit, Regional Reduced Fare Permit, or other identification documenting eligibility when you arrive at the ferry terminal.

Discounts apply to passengers as well as specially equipped vehicles. Passengers requiring the use of an overheight vehicle (7’2” or above) equipped with a wheelchair lift or ramp may travel at the posted standard vehicle (or car) fare. If a person with a disability is in the vehicle, you do not pay the overheight surcharge for wheelchair lifts. If a person with a disability is not present, then you do pay the overheight surcharge. Vehicles that are over 7’2” high due to wheelchair lifts or ramps do not pay the overheight surcharge as long as the person with a disability is in the vehicle. 

ORCA Regional Reduced Fare Permit
Senior citizens and persons with disabilities may ride the bus, train or ferry at a reduced rate with a valid Regional Reduced Fare Permit (RRFP) ORCA card. To obtain an RRFP, bring proof of age (65+), proof of disability or a valid Medicare card to your local transit agency's Customer Service Office. For the best service we recommend going to the Customer Service Office between the 10th and the 20th of the month. RRFP for seniors can also be ordered through the mail by providing a copy of proof of age (65+).

Once you have your ORCA RRFP, simply load a dollar value onto the electronic purse (E-purse) and each time you ride WSF, the discounted fare (50 percent off passenger travel – no car/driver discount) will be taken out of the E-purse.

We offer seniors (65+), persons with disabilities and passengers with a Medicare card or other eligibility verification, travel at half the regular passenger fare rate. The vehicle portion of the fare is not discounted.

Customers who travel frequently on ferries only may choose to sign up for a WSF Senior Passenger Revalue or WSF Disability Passenger Revalue card.  If using other forms of transportation as well, the ORCA RRFP offers the most convenient way to receive the reduced-fare benefits of multiple systems within the region.  

WSF Disability Travel Permit 
This permit is free and only valid on WSF. If you require transit as well, you need an ORCA Regional Reduced Fare Permit. The WSF Disability Travel Permit requires application information and appropriate medical authorization for permit and attendant care endorsement. The WSF permit provides a reduced fare for those who qualify. People with disabilities may qualify for reduced passenger fares on any route. At the time of travel please inform the seller if you want the half-price fare. Vehicle fares are never discounted.

WSF encourages its customers to use the ORCA Regional Reduced Fare Permit (RRFP), if possible. The WSF permit has been developed for those who can't conveniently access the regional transit systems who issue
the RRFP.

Medical Preferential Loading
The Washington State Ferries Medical Preferential Load program provides exemption from the standard “first-come first-served” policy when a customer has a medical condition where an extended wait on the dock would cause detrimental risks to their health. This program is not for use to get to appointments on time when waiting at a terminal would not cause any health risks. Patients are responsible for accounting for any extended waits and allowing enough time to get to their appointments.     

When sailings are on overload and there are long wait times at the terminal, a customer with Medical Preferential status will sail on the next available sailing. This assures space on the vessel but does not entitle the user to first on/first off positioning.

The need for preferential loading must be certified by a physician on a Medical Preferential Load Program Attending Physician/Hospital/Clinic Form faxed directly to the terminal. Only doctors, nurses and affiliated positions (RN, PA, etc.) can certify need. Midwives, physical therapists, etc. cannot certify need. Applications can be requested by calling WSF Information Agents at 1-888-808-7977 or 206-464-6400 and can be sent to the physician via email, fax, or US mail. Applications will be sent only to a physician, hospital or clinic. WSF never sends applications directly to the patient/customer.

Please see the Medical Preferential Load Program Rules and Regulations for complete details.

Arrival times for approved travel:

  • For the San Juan Islands, customers are required to arrive thirty (30) minutes before sailing time. Early arrival is mandatory to facilitate setting up for vessel load. Due to limited sailings in the San Juan Islands, customers who arrive before the vessel has departed but after the gate is closed will not be able to board.
  • For all other routes, customers are required to arrive at least twenty (20) minutes prior to sailing time. WSF cannot guarantee boarding for late arrivals.
  • WSF will try to load late arrivals if space and time permits, but will NOT hold vessels or delay sailings to accommodate late arrivals.

Trip Assistance/Attendant Travel 

  • All WSF employees have critical functions to perform during loading and unloading operations.
  • If you need assistance with transport, wheelchair, etc., please bring an attendant. All terminals have wheelchairs available upon request.
  • We will make every attempt to assist you, dependent on time, safety and employee availability.
  • If you have an attendant endorsement, for both the WSF Disability Travel Permit and the ORCA RRFP, attendants ride free as passengers/walk-ons.

Attended Care for Groups
WSF operates a program for organizations that transport large groups of customers who need assistance (such as senior centers, nursing homes, and assisted living centers) that allows support staff to travel without paying additional fares. To apply for a permit for your organization through this program, please contact WSF at 888-808-7977.

ADA Paratransit Identification Card
Ride paratransit (Dial-a-Ride) transportation within the greater Puget Sound region and nationally. Applications and cards are distributed by local transit agencies. Riders can travel and transfer among all transit agencies including Washington State Ferries. Out-of-state paratransit ID cards are honored by WSF. Attendant endorsement is available with this card.  

ADA Contact Information
206-464-6400 General Information
888-808-7977 WA & B.C.
511 (WA)
206-515-3437 - ADA Accessibility Coordinator
Sign up for route specific ADA e-mail alerts.

WSDOT will modify its policies, practices, and procedures to ensure individuals with disabilities have an equal opportunity to participate in its programs, services, or activities unless the modification fundamentally alters the program, service, or activity, creates a safety issue, or is not otherwise required by the ADA.  Requests for modification can be made to any WSDOT employee or at or by calling toll free 855-362-4ADA (4232). Persons who are deaf or hard of hearing may make a request by calling the Washington state telecommunications relay service at 711.