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Vashon residents sound off on ferry issues at Fauntleroy

A string of angry complaints got leveled at state ferry workers during a public hearing Wednesday night to assess the recent operation changes at the Fauntleroy ferry terminal in West Seattle. (Photo: KOMO News)

VASHON ISLAND, Wash. – A string of angry complaints got leveled at state ferry workers during a public hearing Wednesday night to assess the recent operation changes at the Fauntleroy ferry terminal in West Seattle.

One recurring issue for passengers is that they are often left sitting on the dock in their cars even though there’s still space on the boats when they pull away.

“These people are angry, but mostly they are astonished and bewildered," said Todd Pearson, one of the first speakers during the public comment portion of Wednesday night’s meeting.

Pearson was followed by many other residents on Vashon Island who are fed up with the ferry system and the lengthy delays they experience on the triangle run between Fauntleroy and Southworth.

“Doctors and specialists that I've been waiting to see for months I have missed,” said Dustin Prestridge, adding that “these medical appointments I have to wait for months and months and months again."

In June, a citizen task force recommended reconfiguring how the toll booth operates at Fauntleroy, but the experiment didn't deliver significant results.

“We had a tough summer. We admit that. I own that," said Washington State Ferries Asst. Secretary Amy Scarton, recounting a series of mishaps that sidelines boats on various runs.

As for the complaint that ferries leave unfilled while cars still sit on the dock, state workers point out that the terminal was built in the 1950s but is tasked with handling today’s traffic. The Fauntleroy dock is too small, worker said, and schedules would be thrown off if they processed all the vehicles.

Organizers of the meeting said they welcome the feedback and are looking at other ways to help in the short term.

“The (citizen) task force is going to stay on, they are going to work on other tasks,” said Hadley Rodero, a spokesperson for the ferry system. They've talked about things like starting to look at the schedule, changing the times of day the sailings leave, changing the destinations of each sailing between Southworth and Fauntleroy."

The ferry system said ultimately the Fauntleroy dock has to be replaced but that is years away and full of its own challenges.

Despite all the concerns, ferry workers said there are some positives that came out of this summer. The believe the ferry dock is safer, staff morale has improved and ticket sales are at one of the highest points ever.

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