PORT ORCHARD — Kitsap Transit is warning passengers that it may need to reduce the number of sailings on its ferry routes due to crew shortages stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The agency said it will issue a rider alert should a schedule switch be needed.
Kitsap Transit officials said the agency, like other ferry operators, has experienced a rising number of crew callouts due to COVID-19 exposures and required isolation periods. It is restricted by U.S. Coast Guard rules limiting the number of hours crew members can work in a day.
“As our workforce is affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, we may need to cancel trips on our ferries,” John Clauson, Kitsap Transit executive director, said in a Jan. 19 news release. “We ask for the public’s patience and understanding.”
If fast ferry or local ferry service experiences too many callouts, Kitsap Transit spokesman Sanjay Bhatt said trips on one or more of the routes will be canceled. While sailings on the Annapolis ferry would be canceled in such a scenario, Bhatt said the agency would attempt to maintain the Port Orchard ferry schedule. He added that if local ferry service is reduced to one crew, the Port Orchard ferry will only operate trips departing from 5 a.m. to 9:15 a.m., and from 2:30 p.m. to 7:15 p.m.
Kitsap Transit ferry schedules can be accessed at kitsaptransit.com. Agency officials said they encourage customers to subscribe to “rider alerts” at kitsaptransit.com/blog/rider-alerts.