Ferry problems cause further delays for commuters

SEATTLE -- Ferry commuters were once again hit by delays at the dock Monday morning after two more ferries were pulled from service due to mechanical problems.

The two new ferries forced out of service means the system now has five ferries in for repairs or maintenance.

The smaller replacement ships can't always carry the load, so a passenger-only ferry is being used this week to help on the Seattle-Bremerton run. The Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth run will, for the most part, drop from three ferries to two.

Many ferry users only learned of the problem Monday morning.

"When it breaks down, we feel the effect," said one annoyed commuter.

Ferry chief David Moseley met with commuters and business people in Port Townsend on Monday. It was the last in his series of face-to-face meetings with ferry riders. Moseley said his team scrambled to make this week's adjustments.

"From what we learned this morning, obviously our customers were impacted," he said. "But the services seemed to operate okay. The Salish is slower so were not able to maintain our schedule on the Bremerton run. But given all things considered, I think today, this morning, went about as well as can be expected."

The biggest issue was with the Sealth. A routine inspection Friday spotted a leaky weld in the hull. The Klahowya was also pulled from service after a link between the engine and generator broke Saturday night.

The new repairs come as cancellations pile up this year thanks, in part, to a steep increase in ferry workers {A href=""}calling in sick.

Despite the recent problems, there is good news ahead. One of the system's larger ferries, the Tacoma, will return to service on Friday. Other vessels will follow in the coming weeks.

Moseley also reminded commuters that several brand new large vessels are in the works to help alleviate the problem.