Recent comments from officials representing Washington State Ferries (WSF) offer a case of bad-news, good-news for the future of the ferry connecting Sidney with the United States. (Black Press Media File)

Recent comments from officials representing Washington State Ferries (WSF) offer a case of bad-news, good-news for the future of the ferry connecting Sidney with the United States. (Black Press Media File)

Sidney-to-Anacortes ferry suspended until fall 2021

WSF has no plans to cut service in long-run

Recent comments from officials representing Washington State Ferries (WSF) offer a case of bad-news, good-news for the future of the ferry connecting Sidney with the United States.

Ian Sterling, spokesperson for Washington State Ferries, has confirmed the Sidney-to-Anacortes route remains suspended until further notice, with no reason to expect a change before the end of peak season – at the end of September. Service between the sister communities of Sidney and Anacortes ceased in March 2020 because of international restrictions spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Historically, WSF offers one daily round-trip sailing during the second quarter and fourth quarter of any calendar year, two daily round-trip sailings during the third (summer) quarter, while suspending service during the opening quarter.

RELATED: Private ferry service between Sidney and Anacortes feasible, according to new report

Sterling also confirmed WSF has no plans to discontinue service to Sidney in the long term, adding that the governor’s budget includes funds to keep that route going.

While the route arguably appears as the least important route in Washington State’s ferry system in accounting for 0.5 per cent of the system’s total passengers in 2019, it bears significant historical, cultural and economic significance for the region.

Ferries have operated between Sidney and Anacortes for nearly a century, first under private ownership, then by WSF since 1951. This said, the WSF has faced a number of technical issues and political pressures around the route.

The April 2020 retirement of the MV Elwha left Washington State Ferries with one vessel — the MV Chelan, itself more than 50 years old — capable of servicing the route under the Safety of Life at Sea certification standards for vessels operating in international waters.

“We’re down to a 21 vessel fleet as boats age out and are retired from duty,” said Sterling. “Not long ago there were 24.”

RELATED: Sidney concerned proposed funding cuts to Sidney-Anacortes Ferry could hit tourism

Sterling said a new build program is just getting rolling. “We’re currently funded to start on one new boat with unfunded (as of now) plans for a total of five new boats (for the entire fleet),” he said. “They will all be capable of running on 100 per cent battery power which is pretty cool.”

Washington State politicians have also explored ways to trim costs.

Supporters of the status quo though recently received some good news when a state-commissioned study a found privately-run auto ferry between Sidney and Anacortes, WA., feasible, only to raise a number of legal, logistical and local political issues that will complicate any major changes.

RELATED: Funding for Sidney-Washington ferry repairs still a question mark


Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

FerryWashington State Ferries

Just Posted

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, drown in the Sooke River in February 2020. (Contributed photos)
Coroner confirms ‘puddle jumping’ in 2020 drowning deaths of three Sooke men

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen pulled into raging river driving through nearby flooding

Nanaimo-raised singer Allison Crowe with director Zack Snyder on the set of ‘Man of Steel’ in 2011. Crowe performs a cover of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah in the upcoming director’s cut of ‘Justice League.’ (Photo courtesy Clay Enos)
B.C. musician records song for upcoming ‘Justice League’ film

Allison Crowe’s close connection to director led to rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah

A 50-year-old man was stabbed in an altercation that started with a disagreement about physical distancing. (File photo)
Argument about physical distancing leads to stabbing in Nanaimo

Suspect arrested on Gabriola Island an hour after incident Wednesday, Feb. 24

A battery electric-hybrid ferry, pictured here, is expected to make its way to Vancouver Island in late 2021, says B.C. Ferries. (Submitted photo)
Hybrid ferry for Gabriola-Nanaimo route launches in shipyard in Europe

Two hybrid vessels to replace MV Quinsam by early 2022, says B.C. Ferries

G.P. Vanier in Courtenay has six members of the community who have tested positive; Island Health identified seven staff and 78 students who will be required to self-isolate. Black Press file photo
Eight sick, 108 more isolating in Comox Valley school district due to COVID-19

District says that all who tested positive did not contract COVID-19 within the school sites

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools is preparing a rapid response team proposal for submission to the B.C. Ministry of Education. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district chosen as COVID-19 rapid response team

Team to consist of SD68 and Island Health staff, according to B.C. Ministry of Education

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Captain and Maria, a pair of big and affectionate akbash dogs, must be adopted together because they are so closely bonded. (SPCA image)
Shuswap SPCA seeks forever home for inseparable Akbash dogs

A fundraiser to help medical expenses for Captain and Maria earned over 10 times its goal

The missing camper heard a GSAR helicopter, and ran from his tree well waving his arms. File photo
Man trapped on Manning mountain did nearly everything right to survive: SAR

The winter experienced camper was overwhelmed by snow conditions

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay doctor shares experience contracting COVID-19

Castlegar doctor shares her COVID experience

Ashley Paxman, 29, is in the ICU after being struck by a vehicle along Highway 97 Feb. 18, 2021. She remains in critical condition. (GoFundMe)
Okanagan woman in ICU with broken bones in face after being struck by car

She remains in serious condition following Feb. 18 incident

Vancouver International Women in Film Festival kicks off March 5.
Women in Film Festival features two B.C. filmmakers

The 16th annual festival kicks off March 5, 2021

The BC SPCA is offering many chances for school-aged kids to learn about animal welfare and other animal topics. Pictured here is Keith, a three-month-old kitten seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
From pets to wildlife, BC SPCA offers animal education programs geared to youth

BC SPCA offering virtual spring break camps, workshops and school presentations

Most Read