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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The City of Victoria filed a petition with the Supreme Court of B.C. March 2 to have it clarify whether, under the Trustee Act, Beacon Hill Park can be used for temporary sheltering. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria asks court to clarify if Beacon Hill Park can be used for sheltering

City of Victoria filed petition to Supreme Court of B.C. March 2

The application proposing to rezone Western Speedway was passed by Langford’s planning, zoning and affordable housing committee Feb 8. A petition has since been started by residents of Trudie Terrace, hoping to stop the proposed residential portion of the development plan. (CBRE Victoria)
Petition opposing Western Speedway development proposal gains steam

Save Thetis Heights Neighborhood petition aims to stop extension of Trudie Terrace

Activists from the Fairy Creek Blockades hold the injunction application notice which was submitted by logging company Teal Jones to the B.C. Supreme Court. The application, which asks to have blockaders removed from the sites that stop access to cut blocks, is set to be heard on March 4. (Photo contributed/Joshua Wright)
Activists hunker down to protect Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew from logging

Forest company Teal Cedar applies for injunction to remove seven-month-old blockades

Boma Brown won the Emerging Leader Award for her work founding the Support Network for Indigenous Women and Women of Colour. (Courtesy of Boma Brown)
Victoria SNIWWOC founder up for national women’s award for volunteer efforts

Victoria’s Boma Brown is a semi-finalist in the running for the L’Oreal Paris Women of Worth award

Older rental apartments are prime candidates for renovations, and could result in lost affordable housing stock. (Zoë Ducklow photo)
B.C.’s renoviction overhaul a good start, but won’t preserve affordable stock, lawyer says

And still no protection for people who can’t pay rent due to COVID-19

(Photo by Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze)
B.C. WHL teams to hit the ice with Kelowna, Kamloops hub cities

Kelowna, Kamloops centres chosen to host B.C. WHL teams for 24-game regular season

The victim of the homicide on Cowichan Lake Road early Monday morning was 17 years old, and was stabbed in the incident. (File photo)
Duncan homicide victim was 17 years old

RCMP report that teenager was stabbed

(Black Press file photo)
Agassiz boy, 11, dies from ‘extensive injuries’: Homicide team

Agassiz RCMP were called out Friday to assist with a child in medical distress

(File photo)
RCMP arrest man after report of gun-toting threat-maker near Parksville schools

43-year-old man taken into custody; students at nearby schools were asked to stay inside

The machines are akin to ATMs and allow drug users at risk of overdose to get hydromorphone pills dispensed to them after their palm has been scanned to identify its unique vein pattern. (CANADIAN PRESS)
Feds dole out $3.5M for ‘vending machines’ to dispense safer opioids in B.C.

The machines are located in four cities across Canada, including Vancouver and Victoria

Kelowna’s lakefront visitor centre is one of 130 around the province. Tourism businesses have been hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions on travel. (Destination B.C.)
Tourism, small business getting COVID-19 help, B.C. minister says

$300M grant program has delivered $50 million so far

Most Read