Local Information

Half a million Memorial Day weekend travelers expected aboard state ferries

Thursday, May 23, 2019 - 10:00

Ian Sterling, communications, 206-714-1556
WSF media hotline, 206-402-8070

Plan for long wait times for vehicles, possible sailing schedule delays

SEATTLE – Nearly 500,000 people are projected to ride a state ferry today, May 23 through Tuesday, May 28 for Memorial Day weekend. That’s the equivalent of more than 10 sellout crowds at T-Mobile Park.

Customers driving a vehicle onto a vessel should plan for lengthy wait times during the first long weekend of the busy travel season. To reduce or eliminate waiting, riders may consider walking on the ferry or taking an early morning or late evening sailing.

Busiest travel times
Washington State Ferries expects many holiday weekend travelers to sail westbound today, May 23, through Saturday, May 25, and then eastbound Sunday, May 26 through Tuesday, May 28 as they return from their Memorial Day getaways. The longest wait times are likely to be at the Edmonds, Kingston, Mukilteo and Clinton terminals. These routes often have the highest vehicle ridership in the system on any given day.

Vehicle capacity reduction on Seattle/Bainbridge Island route
The 202-vehicle Tacoma is still undergoing needed maintenance. The 188-vehicle Walla Walla is scheduled to remain filling in on the Seattle/Bainbridge Island route at least into the beginning of the holiday weekend. Customers will need to plan ahead as the reduction in vehicle space could contribute to longer wait times.

Construction in and around Colman Dock
The Seattle waterfront is very busy, particularly with several big construction projects in the area, including Colman Dock. Increased congestion, especially during peak times, may cause travel delays getting in and out of the terminal, as well as possible sailing schedule delays. Through Labor Day, uniformed police officers will help manage traffic during busy times on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at South Jackson Street and the toll plaza entrance at Yesler Way.  

Holiday schedules
There will be a few holiday schedule changes for the Edmonds/Kingston, Mukilteo/Clinton, Point Defiance/Tahlequah and Anacortes/San Juan Islands/Sidney, British Columbia routes on Monday, May 27. The Seattle/Bainbridge and Fauntleroy/Vashon/Southworth routes will operate on a weekend timetable that day.

Travel tips

People using state highways to get to the ferry terminal should plan ahead for potential backups and delays with real-time traffic information on the WSDOT traffic app for their mobile device.

Memorial Day weekend ridership highlights

  • Ridership numbers are expected to be similar to or slightly higher than last year, when just over 475,000 people traveled system-wide between the Thursday before and Tuesday after the holiday.
  • More than one-fourth of all customers over the holiday weekend, or about 125,000, are projected to ride the Seattle/Bainbridge Island route, which is by far the busiest.
  • Both the Edmonds/Kingston and Mukilteo/Clinton routes will likely carry around 40,000 vehicles each.
  • The most noticeable increase in traffic is expected to be on the Anacortes/San Juan Islands/Sidney, British Columbia and Port Townsend/Coupeville routes, where ridership may be up more than 25 percent compared with other weekends in May.

Washington State Ferries, a division of the Washington State Department of Transportation, is the largest ferry system in the U.S. and safely and efficiently carries nearly 25 million people a year through some of the most majestic scenery in the world.

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