WSF’s long-range plan released

What does it mean for Mukilteo?
By Brandon Gustafson | Nov 07, 2018
Photo by: Brandon Gustafson The Suquamish recently made its debut on the Mukilteo-Clinton route last month. The 144-car vessel is expected to play a large role in the expected growth of ridership on the route.

Washington State Ferries recently released its 2040 long-range plan, an update from 2009, which addresses increased ridership, among other issues, under the WSF umbrella.

With the new Mukilteo ferry terminal as one of two key WSF projects currently under construction, along with the new Colman Dock in Seattle, the Mukilteo-Clinton ferry route’s future was heavily discussed throughout the 206-page plan.

Ridership was, as expected, the main topic addressed in the plan, as demand is expected to increase by 30 percent by 2040.

WSF expects the new Mukilteo terminal to open in the fall of 2020 after multiple delays due to budgetary reasons. WSF expects construction to begin this spring on the terminal building, holding lanes, toll booths, and all other components needed for operation.

Also addressed in the plan is a focus on first stabilizing WSF’s fleet and service reliability.

The plan also emphasizes WSF’s need to improve customer experience through better technology, multimodal connections, and accessibility.

Additionally, it calls for investment in a sustainable, resilient infrastructure and reducing the system’s effects on the environment through newer, cleaner ships in its fleet.

It also calls for an increased investment in workforce development for mentor and training programs. WSF reports that 30 percent of employees are eligible to retire between 2019 and 2024.

Mukilteo-Clinton specifics


Ridership expectancy

The number of total passengers expected on the Mukilteo-Clinton route is expected to rise to 2.15 million, up from the 1.81 million reported in 2017.

The Mukilteo-Clinton route, which is the busiest route in the state in terms of vehicle traffic, is expected to rise to 2.64 million from 2.21 million in 2017.



To manage the expected growth, WSF says it will consider more detailed assessment of reservations, and will focus on weekends and holiday periods to avoid inconvenience for commuters.


Medium-term plans


  • Vessel and service enhancements: Nothing major as of this plan. In 2019, the route will experience vessel replacement, which will increase vehicle capacity moving forward. A 144-car Olympic Class vessel will replace the 124-car Issaquah vessel for the peak season starting in 2019, and for all seasons by 2035. The Suquamish recently debuted on the Mukilteo-Clinton route, and is scheduled to be on the route for the peak season moving forward.
  • Terminals: The Mukilteo terminal will be completed fall 2020. Additionally, there are plans for construction of overhead loading at the Clinton terminal in the 2025-2027 biennium. There is also discussion of expanded of the Clinton Park and Ride facility, which is proposed in 2027-2029.



Long-term plans


  • Vessels: Plans are to replace the two existing 144-vehicle diesel vessels during the peak season and one 144-car and one 124-car Issaquah Class vessel during the off peak season with two 144-car capacity hybrid-electric propulsion vessels year round, to operate all-electric in 2034 and 2035. This is part of WSF’s plans to reduce the system’s environmental effects.
  • Service enhancements: Increase the off-peak season capacity due to the increased capacity through newer, larger vessels.
  • Terminals: Installation of utility infrastructure to support all-electric vessels. This is planned for 2034 at both the Clinton and Mukilteo terminals.


Cost savings

With the new terminal in Mukilteo scheduled to open in fall 2020, WSF expects that should significantly reduce maintenance and preservation costs for the terminal. With expected cost-savings there, it should free up WSF’s maintenance budget for terminals with aging infrastructure.

Public comments

Mukilteo was one city that was left off WSF’s long-range plan meetings list.

Of the open houses in September and early October, the closest to Mukilteo were in Edmonds and Freeland (Whidbey Island).

There was an online open house, and there was a 45-day public comment period between Sept. 10 and Oct. 25 to address concerns.

One comment addressed concerns over shuttles, reserve fleets and being on schedule.

“Whidbey SeaTac Shuttle travels across the Mukilteo-Clinton ferry route a minimum of 18 times a day, seven days a week … the biggest priority would be to have enough reserve ferries in the fleet to maintain the scheduled service,” the commenter said. “Our second priority would be to operate the ferries on time, on schedule.”

Another commenter believes WSF is not on track with its ridership projections.

“I think Mukilteo/Clinton stats will increase faster than your projections,” they said.

Main takeaways from the public comment and survey period for the Mukilteo/Clinton route included community members expressing support for increased parking, overhead loading at Clinton, and strategies to accommodate growth, such as through vehicle reservations.

Many participants also suggested creating long-term and overnight parking in Mukilteo. In addition, community members voiced wanting reliable connections to public transportation.

The long-range plan is due to be sent to the state Legislature in January.

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