Plan themes

What are the key themes of the Draft Long Range Plan?

More than half of Washington State Ferries’ 22-vessel fleet is scheduled to be retired by 2040. Five of these ferries are more than 50 years old and need to be replaced immediately to sustain reliable service.

Key themes

The Draft Plan makes recommendations in four key theme areas. The Draft Plan reflects input from the public and stakeholders, including nearly 1,400 comments and survey responses submitted during our spring 2018 outreach sessions.

The Draft Plan makes recommendations in four key theme areas: Reliable service, customer experience, manage growth, and sustainability and resilience.

Instructions:
Browse the sections below to learn more about the findings for each theme. If you would like to provide comments on a particular theme, please type them in the space provided. If not, move to the next theme. Your comments will automatically appear in the comments page.

Our ferries operate more than 20 hours each day, 365 days a year. Heavy use puts stress on our aging fleet, and WSF has limited spare ferries to fill in when vessels need to be taken out of service for maintenance. In addition, 30 percent of our workforce is eligible to retire in the next five years.


To stabilize the system and reliable service through 2040, the Draft Plan recommends:

Vessels

  • Build new vessels to stabilize the system.
    • Extend the existing open contract for the Olympic class of vessels to construct five more vessels as soon as possible—two to stabilize the fleet and three to replace vessels due to retire.
  • Examine the 60-year life expectancy for vessels in the fleet that have not had the maintenance and preservation time required to meet this high life-expectancy goal.
    • Because Issaquah Class vessels are experiencing reliability issues and steel degradation that will shorten their attainable service life, retire the Issaquah class early, at approximately 50 years of age.
  • Allow for 12 weeks of annual out-of-service maintenance and preservation time for each vessel to achieve the 60-year life expectancy goal.
    • Grow the fleet from 22 to 26 total vessels.
  • Invest in new vessels to replace retiring vessels.
    • Retire and replace 13 vessels over the planning horizon.
  • Streamline the fleet composition to realize enhanced efficiencies and redundancy.
    • Simplify the fleet to include five vessel classes by 2040.

Terminals

  • Plan for reliable terminal infrastructure.
    • Continue to enhance the asset management model to prioritize projects that increase reliability and resiliency.
  • Monitor terminal maintenance trends through 2040.
    • Perform ongoing evaluation of methods to reduce paint maintenance costs, such as models to help plan and estimate when to repaint assets.
  • Program terminal preservation projects to support reliable service.
    • Continue to monitor for opportunities to enhance and support reliable service, and improve vehicle processing and operational efficiencies through preservation projects.
    • Plan for critical preservation work to upgrade the Fauntleroy terminal.
    • Work with the community to determine the best solution for operational challenges at the Edmonds terminal.
  • Invest in the Eagle Harbor Maintenance Facility to serve system needs through 2040.
    • Convert an existing tie-up slip to a drive-on slip at Eagle Harbor.

Workforce

  • Establish a workforce development plan unique to maritime conditions.
    • Establish and invest in recruitment, training, apprentice and mentoring programs for all WSF positions.
    • Develop strategies to encourage qualified, experienced workers to stay in the workforce while attracting and retaining a younger workforce.
    • Update salary survey data regularly for wage adjustments to reflect market conditions.
  • Retain skilled labor at the Eagle Harbor Maintenance Facility.
    • Survey regional salary information frequently to gain awareness of the latest market conditions and take measures to compete with these conditions.
    • Explore opportunities to expand the apprentice program to support a sustainable workforce at Eagle Harbor.

Please read the full Reliable service section here.

Provide comments on the Reliable service section below.

WSF currently relies on manual processes to collect data, which limits the amount of information we can communicate to our customers about travel and wait times. Technology investments focused on system integration and automation would improve the customer experience.

To improve the customer experience, the Draft Plan recommends:

  • Invest in technology that gives customers more information to support better trip planning, including:
    • Terminal queue detection and wait times.
    • Website upgrades.
    • Customer alerts and notifications system.
    • Real-time parking information.
  • Modernize fare collection to provide operational efficiencies and meet customer preferences and expectations.
    • Upgrade ticketing and reservations systems.
    • Monitor the progress and development of two available technologies: automatic vehicle length detection and automatic vehicle passenger counting.
  • Increase accessibility and wayfinding in and around the vessels and terminals to improve access and multimodal connections.
    • Implement Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant electronic signage at terminals with directional information, service alerts and real-time schedule information.
  • Enhance mobility by improving pedestrian, bike and transit connections to and from terminals.
    • Prioritize bike and pedestrian loading.
    • Look for opportunities to incorporate improved bike and pedestrian infrastructure in terminal preservation and improvement projects.
  • Plan vessel and terminal spaces to be flexible and responsive to emerging technologies and new transportation options.
    • Assess the evolution and expansion of pick-up/drop-off areas at terminals as part of capital improvements planning.
    • Design new vessels with flexible vehicle and passenger spaces in order to accommodate changing ratios of vehicle, walk-on and bike passengers in the future.

Please read the full Customer experience section here.

Provide comments on the Customer experience section below.

The Puget Sound region has experienced significant population and job growth over the past 20 years, and that trend is expected to continue over the next 20 years. As a result, ferry ridership is expected to increase by 30 percent by 2040. WSF will need to move more people and manage demand during busy peak periods, but we have limited opportunities to increase capacity.

To manage ridership growth, the Draft Plan recommends:

  • Refine existing metrics and define new metrics to offer better data for future system planning that prioritizes the movement of people and improves the customer experience.
    • Establish a passenger Level of Service standard.
    • Adjust capacity standards on routes with reservations.
    • Establish vehicle wait time as a performance metric.
  • Maximize existing system utilization through the advancement of adaptive management strategies that make operations more efficient, spread out demand beyond peak travel times, and prioritize walk-on and bike-on passengers through better connectivity at the terminal.
    • Expand vehicle reservations.
    • Fare structure and pricing strategies.
    • Additional adaptive management strategy areas.
  • Provide system capacity enhancements through modest increases in service hours and by leveraging new vessel construction, terminal improvements and existing infrastructure modifications.
    • Enhanced service hours.
    • Increased carrying capacity (through size of the vessels).
    • Terminal operations efficiencies.

Please read the full Manage growth section here.

Provide comments on the Manage growth section here.

WSF is committed to providing a sustainable and resilient fleet over the long-term. Executive Order 18-01, signed by Governor Jay Inslee in January 2018, directs WSF to begin the transition to a zero-carbon-emission ferry fleet, including the accelerated adoption of both ferry electrification and operational improvements that will conserve energy and cut fuel use. Executive Order 18-02 requires WSF to explore strategies to quiet ferries to protect the struggling orca whale population. In addition, WSF needs to be prepared for abrupt disruptive events, such as earthquakes, and the long term effects of climate change.

To reduce WSF’s environmental footprint and make sure WSF is resilient, the Draft Plan recommends:

Sustainability

  • Highlight sustainability through organizational structure, decision making and reporting.
    • Dedicate resources to sustainability.
  • Reduce vehicle emissions by optimizing terminal operational efficiencies and employing adaptive management strategies that spread out peak demand and minimize wait times.
    • Add overhead loading.
    • Improve traffic at terminals.
    • Invest in vehicle queue detection.
    • Optimize terminal operations.
    • Enhanced customer information.
  • Promote mode shift through investments in technology and infrastructure that promote walk-on and bike-on passengers and improve multimodal connections.
    • Improve customer information.
    • Enhance transit connections.
    • Improve terminal access.
  • Design future vessels and terminals to be more environmentally friendly and flexible in design to accommodate new technology, changing transportation modes and increased passenger ridership.
    • Invest in hybrid electric propulsion.
    • Reduce vessel noise.
    • Plan a vessel design charrette.
    • Increase energy efficiency and waste reduction.
    • Continue to assess Terminal Design Standards.
    • Increase efficiency.
    • Monitor stormwater at terminals.
    • Continue creosote removal.

Resilience

  • Develop an emergency response plan to enhance preparedness and aid in response and recovery efforts, and develop a prioritization of terminal capital projects for emergency response.
    • Develop a disaster response and preparedness plan.
    • Assess potential for emergency side-loading.
    • Identify alternative landing sites.
    • Fuel/energy access plans.
    • Plan for disruptive events.
  • Prioritize terminal maintenance needs with the most seismic risk, vulnerability to sea level rise and “lifeline routes” that provide access to major population centers or critical facilities.
    • Prioritize maintenance.
    • Assess seismic risk.
    • Prepare for climate change and sea level rise.
    • Incorporate coastal design standards.
    • Identify lifeline routes.
  • Increase the number of spare vessels to support regional emergency response.
    • Grow the relief fleet.

Please read the full Sustainability and resilience section here.

Provide comments on the Sustainability and resilience section below.

Reliable service

Our ferries operate more than 20 hours each day, 365 days a year. Heavy use puts stress on our aging fleet, and WSF has limited spare ferries to fill in when vessels need to be taken out of service for maintenance. In addition, 30 percent of our workforce is eligible to retire in the next five years.


To stabilize the system and reliable service through 2040, the Draft Plan recommends:

Vessels

  • Build new vessels to stabilize the system.
    • Extend the existing open contract for the Olympic class of vessels to construct five more vessels as soon as possible—two to stabilize the fleet and three to replace vessels due to retire.
  • Examine the 60-year life expectancy for vessels in the fleet that have not had the maintenance and preservation time required to meet this high life-expectancy goal.
    • Retire the Issaquah class early, at approximately 50 years of age.
  • Allow for 12 weeks of annual out-of-service maintenance and preservation time for each vessel to achieve the 60-year life expectancy goal.
    • Grow the fleet from 22 to 26 total vessels.
  • Invest in new vessels to replace retiring vessels.
    • Retire and replace 13 vessels over the planning horizon.
  • Streamline the fleet composition to realize enhanced efficiencies and redundancy.
    • Simplify the fleet to include five vessel classes by 2040.

Terminals

  • Plan for reliable terminal infrastructure.
    • Continue to enhance the asset management model to prioritize projects that increase reliability and resiliency.
  • Monitor terminal maintenance trends through 2040.
    • Perform ongoing evaluation of methods to reduce paint maintenance costs, such as models to help plan and estimate when to repaint assets.
  • Program terminal preservation projects to support reliable service.
    • Continue to monitor for opportunities to enhance and support reliable service, and improve vehicle processing and operational efficiencies through preservation projects.
    • Plan for critical preservation work to upgrade the Fauntleroy terminal.
    • Work with the community to determine the best solution for operational challenges at the Edmonds terminal.

Workforce

  • Establish a workforce development plan unique to maritime conditions.
    • Establish and invest in recruitment, training, apprentice and mentoring programs for all WSF positions.
    • Develop strategies to encourage qualified, experienced workers to stay in the workforce while attracting and retaining a younger workforce
    • Update salary survey data regularly for wage adjustments to reflect market conditions.
  • Retain skilled labor at the Eagle Harbor Maintenance Facility.
    • Survey regional salary information frequently to gain awareness of the latest market conditions and take measures to compete with these conditions.
    • Explore opportunities to expand the apprentice program to support a sustainable workforce at Eagle Harbor.

Please read the full Reliable service section here.

Provide comments on the Reliable service section below.

Customer experience

WSF currently relies on manual processes to collect data, which limits the amount of information we can communicate to our customers about travel and wait times. Technology investments focused on system integration and automation would improve the customer experience.


To improve the customer experience, the Draft Plan recommends:

  • Invest in technology that gives customers more information to support better trip planning, including terminal queue detection and wait times, website upgrades, improvements to the customer alerts and notifications system, and real-time parking information.
  • Modernize fare collection to provide operational efficiencies and meet customer preferences and expectations.
    • Upgrade ticketing and reservations systems.
    • Monitor the progress and development of two available technologies: automatic vehicle length detection and automatic vehicle passenger counting.
  • Increase accessibility and wayfinding in and around the vessels and terminals to improve access and multimodal connections.
    • Implement Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant electronic signage at terminals with directional information, service alerts and real-time schedule information.
  • Enhance mobility by improving pedestrian, bike and transit connections to and from terminals.
    • Prioritize bike and pedestrian loading.
    • Look for opportunities to incorporate improved bike and pedestrian infrastructure in terminal preservation and improvement projects.
  • Plan vessel and terminal spaces to be flexible and responsive to emerging technologies and new transportation options.
    • Assess the evolution and expansion of pick-up/drop-off areas at terminals will need to be assessed further as part of capital improvements planning.
    • Design new vessels with flexible vehicle and passenger spaces in order to accommodate changing ratios of vehicle, walk-on and bike passengers in the future.

Please read the full Customer experience section here.

Provide comments on the Customer experience section below.

Manage growth

The Puget Sound region has experienced significant population and job growth over the past 20 years, and that trend is expected to continue over the next 20 years. As a result, ferry ridership is expected to increase by 30 percent by 2040. WSF will need to move more people and manage demand during busy peak periods, but we have limited opportunities to increase capacity.


To manage ridership growth, the Draft Plan recommends:

  • Prioritize the movement of people and improve the customer experience.
    • Establish a passenger Level of Service standard.
    • Establish wait time as a performance metric.
    • Adjust capacity standards on routes with reservations.
  • Make operations more efficient, spread out demand beyond peak travel times and prioritize walk-on and bike-on passengers through better connectivity at the terminal.
    • Expand vehicle reservations system to other routes and terminals
    • Explore fare structure and pricing strategies that promote mode shift and minimize dwell times for vessels, and perform further analysis of demand-based pricing.
  • Provide system capacity enhancements through:
    • Enhanced service hours.
    • Increased carrying capacity through vessel replacement program.
    • Terminal operations efficiencies.

Please read the full Manage growth section here.

Provide comments on the Manage growth section here.

Sustainability and resiliency

WSF is committed to providing a sustainable and resilient fleet over the long-term. Executive Order 18-01, signed by Gov. Jay Inslee in January 2018, directs WSF to begin the transition to a zero-carbon-emission ferry fleet, including the accelerated adoption of both ferry electrification and operational improvements that will conserve energy and cut fuel use. Executive Order 18-02 requires WSF to explore strategies to quiet ferries to protect the struggling orca whale population. In addition, WSF needs to be prepared for abrupt disruptive events, such as earthquakes, and climate change.


To reduce WSF’s environmental footprint and make sure WSF is resilient, the Draft Plan recommends:

Sustainability

  • Highlight sustainability through organizational structure, decision making and reporting.
    • Focus on sustainability through cross-departmental strategies and development of data tracking and reporting.
  • Design future vessels and terminals to be more environmentally friendly and flexible in design to accommodate new technology, changing transportation modes and increased passenger ridership.
    • Convert six existing diesel-propulsion vessels to hybrid-electric, and design new vessels to use hybrid-electric propulsion. In the years leading up to full vessel replacement, WSF could increase biodiesel from B5 to B10 or higher other renewable diesel to reduce carbon emissions.
    • Invest in building the relief fleet to allow for needed vessel maintenance and maximize the lifespan of vessels.
    • Streamline the overall fleet configuration to five vessel classes, each with flexibility in design to accommodate future demand of passengers and emerging vehicle technology.
    • Pursue materials and methods to maximize energy efficiency and provide opportunities for quieter operations to protect marine life.
    • Convene different disciplines and technical experts for a vessel design charrette prior to final design and construction to ensure they have evaluated all components of future vessels and their systems for minimizing environmental effects.
    • Allow for flexibility within the Terminal Design Standards to accommodate new technologies.
  • Utilize adaptive management strategies to reduce vehicle emissions at terminals from idling, waiting vehicles and congestion.
    • Spread demand by using strategies such as expanding reservations and utilizing demand-based pricing.
    • Invest in technologies such as queue detection, website refresh, customer alerts and notifications to process vehicle customers faster.
    • Enhance service hours to allow more options for passenger travel to spread demand.
  • Promote mode shift through making technology improvements, prioritizing walk-on and bike-on passengers and improving multimodal connections.
    • Improve real-time user information, customer alerts and wayfinding to encourage customers to walk or bike on the vessel, rather than drive.
    • Coordinate with partner transit agencies to synchronize schedules and make transit connections easier.
    • Look for opportunities to incorporate improved bike and pedestrian infrastructure in terminal preservation and improvement projects.
  • Optimize terminal operational efficiencies to minimize wait times for idling vehicles, decreasing vehicle emissions.
    • Construct overhead loading at terminals.
    • Partner with local transportation agencies to reduce traffic congestion caused by traffic signalization.
    • Improve vehicle queue detection capabilities at terminals to communicate wait times to passengers.
    • Minimize dwell time for ferries by making terminal improvements, which in turn lowers fuel usage as well as greenhouse gases emitted by idling vehicles.

Resilience

  • Develop an emergency response plan to enhance preparedness and aid in response and recovery efforts.
    • Develop a comprehensive disaster response and preparedness plan that coordinates with other regional and agency plans.
    • Assess the fleet for side-loading capability during emergency situations.
  • Manage terminal maintenance to prioritize “lifeline” routes, seismic risks and sea level rise.
    • Use identification of emergency lifeline routes, in coordination with WSDOT emergency plans, to establish priority terminals and routes that will be the focus of resources in response to an emergency event.
  • Increase the number of spare vessels to support regional emergency response.
    • Maintain a sufficient relief fleet to allow WSF to respond to an emergency event without removing vessels from everyday service. The Plan recommends expanding the relief fleet to a total of six vessels over the 20-year planning horizon.
  • Incorporate emergency preparedness elements in the prioritization of terminal capital projects.
    • Assess and prioritize necessary upgrades to terminals to protect against seismic threats.
    • Prepare for and determine how to restore ferry service if an abrupt, disruptive event leads to significant staff shortages and limited resources.
    • Evaluate the effects of climate change and sea level rise on terminal assets and develop a plan to mitigate those potential effects and prioritize capital investments.
    • Review coastal design standards to identify future ferry terminal construction work that would provide the most resilient design.

Please read the full Sustainability and resilience section here.

Provide comments on the Sustainability and resilience section below.

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