Ferries on track to match or pass the 100 canceled sailings from last year

Ferries on track to match or pass the 100 canceled sailings from last year »Play Video
SEATTLE -- With dozens of ferry sailings already canceled this year, the state is on track to match or pass the 100 sailings canceled last year.

The issues stem from state ferry workers that didn't show up to work on time, but who is to blame?

We first went to ask George Capacci, the interim secretary of Washington State Ferries.

"The challenge is, just the way you and I have trouble getting to work, some of our crew members have trouble getting to work," Capacci said.

Capacci blames the problem on workers stuck in traffic and others who called-in sick.

"If the full crew isn't there, the ship can't sail," Capacci said.

In many cases, just one late worker caused passengers to sit and wait.

But Dennis Conklin with the InlandBoatmen's Union says the issue lies with the Washington State Ferries not being able to resolve the issue.

He blames the ferry system for trying to squeak-by with the bare minimum.

"If you carry an extra person that could jump between one, 2 or 3 vessels, you wouldn't have this problem anymore," Conklin said.

The problem is the state doesn't have the money to hire more hands on deck. Long-standing budget cuts have caused staff shortages in recent years, so as much state ferries might want to hire more staff, they can't.

"I can't augment the crew because you expect me, as a tax-payer, to be efficient and operate properly," Capacii said.

Capacci also points out for the 144 delays and cancellations over the last year and a half, there were hundreds of thousands of successful sailings.

"I think the crews, both on the ships and in the terminals do a wonderful job of keeping the ships running," he said.

Because Washington State Ferries no longer lists "lack of staff" as a reason for delays and cancellations, it's now more difficult to track how many sailings problems are caused of by staff shortages.