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WSF cuts Southworth ferries for the winter

A new winter Washington State Ferries schedule designed to cut costs will cut into many South Kitsap residents’ weekend travel options, said Southworth Ferry Advisory Committee Chair Marjorie Rees.

“It will be almost impossible for Southworth riders going to Seattle for the weekend to get the boat they want,” Rees said. “If there’s a line of cars at Vashon, they’re going to limit the Southworth cars.”

Beginning Dec. 28, only two boats will run Saturdays and Sundays on the Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth route until March 20, 2004. According to WSF, this winter schedule — the first in a decade — is designed to cut costs and reach the system’s overall “5+5+5 Business Plan,” which calls for a 5 percent reduction in costs, a 5 percent increase in fares and 5 percent in new revenue.

“Instead of constantly raising rates, we are looking at other ways we can save money,” said spokeswoman Susan Harris-Huether. “In the winter time, there are not as many people traveling on the ferries, so it makes to have less service when there are less people using it.”

Harris-Huether said she expects wait times to increase for ferry riders, as the time between departures lengthens on the two-boat schedule. However, she said it remains to be seen whether that will leave cars stranded on the dock as the limited amount of boats fill up.

“It will mean a longer time between boats, and ferry riders will have to plan accordingly,” she said.

Harris-Huether said it has not been decided yet if the two-boat winter schedule will be brought back for the Triangle route in 2005.

“It’s hard to say, but I assume so,” she said. “We will be looking at the wait times and traffic patterns to see if it works.”

Download a copy of the new witner schedule at www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/

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