A fourth ferry will be added to the Anacortes-San Juan Islands route on Friday, Washington State Ferries announced.

The route had four boats until Oct. 16, staffing shortages forced a reduction to three boats.

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According to the Thursday news release, addition of the fourth boat is being done on a trial basis.

“We know and understand that our reduced schedules are causing many challenges,” Patty Rubstello, head of WSF, said in the release. “We are working hard to recruit new employees so we can restore service on a route-by-route basis. Recently, we’ve been able to add sailings nearly every day.”

New vehicle reservations for the Anacortes-to-San Juan Islands route remain suspended until it is certain that all four vessels will have full crews on a regular basis, WSF said.

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State Ferries said those with existing reservations will be prioritized over those without reservations. All other vehicles will be loaded on a first-come, first-served basis.

State Ferries switched to a reduced-service schedule for some routes in an attempt to avoid making last-minute sailing cancellations caused by staffing issues.

According to the release, the staffing shortage is a result of factors including a global shortage of mariners that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, an aging workforce, COVID-19 cases and quarantines.