Washington

State ferries website goes down following tough weekend of delays, reduced sailings

mynorthwest news | It started overnight between last Thursday and Friday, when over 140 sailings were canceled over staffing shortages across the Washington State Ferries (WSF) organization. It was then followed by a weekend of reduced sailings and rescheduled boats, and now, WSF is dealing with a website outage affecting its public-facing schedules, alerts, cameras, and mobile app.

The outages — which appear to be consistent across Washington State Department of Transportation websites — were reported around 10 p.m. Sunday night. While technicians have been working on a fix in the hours since, WSF’s pages for its ferry schedules, alerts, and cameras are still redirecting toward a “404” error page as of 5 a.m.

In the meantime, WSF is encouraging people to follow a curated list of Twitter accounts for further updates, laying out Monday’s service plan in the following post:

The cause of Monday’s website outage remains unclear. That said, last week’s issues were the direct result of staffing problems, with the ferry service citing COVID-19 restrictions that have “not allowed us to hire or train new recruits at the same rate as prior to the pandemic.”

While WSF typically ramps up hiring once a year before the summer begins, it says it is now “continuously recruiting new employees” to account for its lack of deckhands.

Others have theorized that ferry workers may have been calling out sick in protest of the upcoming COVID vaccine mandate for state workers, taking effect on Oct. 18.

“What you see today is the direct result of the mandates, people refusing to show up to work,” Republican state Rep. Andrew Barkis told MyNorthwest. “Whether this is a protest, whether it is a taste of what’s to come here in the next week, this is very concerning.”

Ryan Brazeau — a representative with the Inland Boatmen’s Union — contested that claim, though, telling KIRO Radio that of their 1,000 deckhands, just 40 have not revealed their vaccination status, and that the vaccine mandate is likely not to blame for recent shortages.

“I think it’d be shocking to everyone if people gave up these jobs,” Brazeau said. “They’re great jobs, they’d be giving up a pension, a retirement, and all that comes with it.”

Brazeau further noted that the majority of deckhands want to work, and have been putting in overtime to help out.

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