Friday, February 20, 2009

A closer look at the Edmonds-Port Townsend twilight ferry

Washington State Department of Transportation Ferries Division (WSF) came through for the peninsula and the project earlier this year when they agreed to provide a nightly, Sunday-Thursday car ferry run between Port Townsend and Edmonds. Thanks to WSF we’re able to offer travelers another option in getting around and help ensure that the Olympic Peninsula will indeed be open for business when the Hood Canal Bridge closes May 1.

Complete details of the proposed service are still being finalized, but current plans include:
One round-trip sailing per evening, Sunday through Thursday with a crossing time of approximately one hour and 45 minutes.


Tentative schedule is:

  • Depart Edmonds: 8:40 p.m.
  • Depart Port Townsend: 10:40 p.m.
The vessel will be an Issaquah-class ferry with capacity for six 82-foot tractor trailer trucks and 86 passenger vehicles -- or 15, 15-foot delivery trucks and about 86 passenger vehicles -- in each direction.

Reservations will be taken for commercial travel on this route starting mid-April (call 877-595-4222), with priority given to commercial vehicles. Fares will be WSF’s regular Peak Season cross-Sound fare (same as the Edmonds/Kingston route):
  • Passenger: $6.70
  • Vehicle and driver: $14.45
  • 80-foot+ truck: $115.60 for an 80’ vehicle + $1.45 for each additional foot
We think the evening runs will help travelers and truckers get across the Puget Sound quicker and reduce traffic and improve safety on US 101 during the closure as well.

Are you planning to use the service? What questions do you have?

21 comments:

irwinj@wsdot.wa.gov said...

WSF is including information about the Port Townsend-Edmonds service in its Spring Schedule as well.

DavidS. said...

Will passenger-only travelers be allowed to use this run?

irwinj@wsdot.wa.gov said...

Passenger-only travelers can use the Port Townsend-Edmonds ferry. It's an Issaquah-class ferry and can accommodate 1,200 passengers.

znep said...

Any plans to have a reservation system for passenger vehicles?

Hans A said...

Ferry service in general is usually quite congested on holiday weekends like Memorial Day. Closure of the bridge may result in reduced pressure on the Bremerton, Bainbridge Island, and Kingston Ferry lines. Could the Edmonds-Port Townsend ferry line provide extra holiday service to releive pressure on the Mukilteo and Keystone ferry lines?

irwinj@wsdot.wa.gov said...

Freight haulers will have priority on reservations for the twilight ferry, but right now WSF is evaluating whether or not the vessels can accommodate passenger vehicles.

irwinj@wsdot.wa.gov said...

WSF is offering reservations for passenger vehicles beginning April 17 by phone. To make a reservation call, WSF Customer Service at 1-888-808-7977 (WA & BC) or 511 (WA) during regular business hours seven days a week, 7 a.m.-6 p.m.

irwinj@wsdot.wa.gov said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

As a potential walk on passenger, will there be a bus to meet the the late arrival of the PT boat when it arrives in Edmonds.

irwinj@wsdot.wa.gov said...

Community Transit won't be running that late. This is primarily a run to assist freight haulers and businesses, so walk-ons are advised to make travel arrangements in Port Townsend and Edmonds if they plan to use the service.

Anonymous said...

As a Jefferson county to King county commuter, I don't know why WSF is not running the ferry on Fridays and Sundays. I will be staying in King county during the closure but I will be coming home on weekends. Friday night traffic is much higher on Edmonds-Kingston but I wonder if WSF has any idea where that traffic is going? Certainly it is not stopping in Kitsap. I suspect WSF will not need the big ferries on Edmonds-Kingston during the closure as much of that current traffic continues to Pt. Townsend, Sequim and PA.

Anonymous said...

This is appalling!!!! I moved to Kingston last year because of the close proximity to the ONF. Now, I find out that starting at the opening of hiking season, I will now have to drive 2.5 hours to get to Quilcene instead of the 45 minutes I was expecting. Furthermore, it seems that there is no interest in accommodating people who have a need to drive across. It's nice to say that you will provide passenger only service, but may I ask, What good will that do, when there's no public transit on the other side to get where people are headed? I saw a post about the Edmonds/PT run, but it looks as though passengers would be dropped off in PT in the middle of the night, with no public transit available. This measure is very poorly thought out, and it seems that those in charge are conveniently glossing over the fact that this pretty much puts the kibosh on anyone wanting to hike in the Olympics. If I am wrong or mistaken, PLEASE POINT OUT MY ERROR. As I understand it, I am disgusted with the way this project is being (mis)handled.

irwinj@wsdot.wa.gov said...

The closure period was based on several factors -- milder weather for construction and a reduced impact on Olympic Peninsula businesses were among the top reasons.

There is public transit out of South Point in Jefferson County and Lofall in Kitsap County to accommodate people who need to cross the canal during the six-week closure. There are also park and ride lots on both sides (in Port Gamble and at Shine Pit) so people who need to drive to their destinations can still do so.

The reservation-only Edmonds/Port Townsend ferry was established for freight haulers to save them the time and expense of driving around. It also reduces the number of large trucks that will have to use US 101 in May and June.

That being the case, walk-ons will pretty much have the same travel options as late-night walk-ons anywhere else in the Puget Sound. If you catch the late boat from Seattle to Bainbridge, for instance, arranging a pickup or having a car within walking distance on the island is fairly regular practice.

True, the primary focus of the closure planning is based on getting people to work, doctors appointments and school.

However, you won't have to go as far as Quilcene to find great hiking in the Olympics during the closure. There are excellent ONF trails near Hoodsport and Brinnon as well.

As a former nine-year resident of North Kitsap (from Bainbridge, Indianola, Poulsbo and Hansville), and an avid hiker, I know it's a bit more of a drive, but I can assure you the south hikes in the Leeward Olympics are fantastic.

Also, if you know anyone up in Port Angeles, I'd suggest making a trip up there during the closure as well because there's great hiking and camping on Hurricane Ridge Loop. You can take the fare-free bus up and have them meet you at the PA Gateway Transit Center.

I realize these aren't as easy as making a 45-minute drive to Quilcene and heading up to Tunnel Creek or Mount Townsend, but I assure you there is great hiking to be found. As a longtime camper/hiker I've always discovered that the adventure isn't the destination but getting there.

Paul said...

My girlfriend and I hope to make a single trip on this ferry run by car, if we can make a reservation. The idea is to make a nifty day trip out of it Sunday, by driving around from Seattle, stopping and exploring along the way, and ending up in Port Townsend in time to catch the ferry back.

That isn't something we can do without a reservation; we'll be too tired at the end to safely drive all the way back.

It's a very different trip than we'd normally do on the Olympic Peninsula, but for us, that's the point. The closure, and the alternate options provided, make some things more difficult, but they also provide some interesting alternatives that aren't normally available.

Anonymous said...

is the foot traffic first come first serve? will the people at the end of the line( if there are more then 86 people)just be screwed and have to go back to where they were or drive around for hours?

irwinj@wsdot.wa.gov said...

The Port Townsend-Edmonds boat can accommodate several hundred passengers but it is highly recommended that drivers -- both commercial and private -- make reservations before they head to either dock to ensure they will be allowed on the vessel.

Paul said...

I just called WSF to try to get a spot on the Port Townsend-Edmonds ferry. I was first told that they weren't offering reservations until the 24th. I mentioned that the Hood Canal closure blog said that today was the day, so she checked with a coworker who she said was coordinating the Port Townsend-Edmonds stuff, and was then told that, no, actually, it'd be the 26th.

Anonymous said...

There should be another run in the a.m. as well as the p.m.

irwinj@wsdot.wa.gov said...

It would have been great to do so, we agree. But with the current shortage of additional vessels in the WSF fleet, we consider ourselves fortunate to offer this as a travel option.

The Twilight Ferry originated to help reduce the strain on freight haulers, who otherwise would have to drive around, but will also accommodate passengers and private vehicles.

Reservations are strongly reccommendend and can be made by calling 1-877-595-4222.

Andrea said...

how far in advance can you make reservations?

Paul said...

WSF now has their own web page on this service, which has details on reservations, etc. Reservations can be made up to a week in advance. I called last Sunday, midmorning, to make my reservation for this Sunday evening.

http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Ferries/service/HCBclosure.htm