Numerous people contacted Traffic Lab on Monday to share their experiences of waiting at ferry stations and spotting cheaters. Some offered possible solutions to the problem.
Better signs near Washington State Ferries terminals to direct drivers where to go? Enforce a rule of always sending those who cut in line to the back of the pack? Raise fares during peak travel times to reduce wait times to board?
Traffic Lab’s story Monday about drivers cutting lines at ferry terminals got people thinking about how to eliminate the problem.
Summer is the Super Bowl for ferries, with ridership double that of any other time of year, the agency says. That means boarding times can reach as high as three hours — for ferrygoers who do not cut in line, that is.
Via email, social media and comments online, readers shared their experiences of waiting at the docks and how they would improve the system to curb line cutting.
Traffic Lab is a Seattle Times project that digs into the region’s thorny transportation issues, spotlights promising approaches to easing gridlock, and helps readers find the best ways to get around. It is funded with the help of community sponsors Alaska Airlines, CenturyLink, Kemper Development Co., Sabey Corp., Seattle Children’s hospital and Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. Seattle Times editors and reporters operate independently of our funders and maintain editorial control over Traffic Lab content.
Here are a few of the responses. Some have been edited for length and clarity.
Solution? Better traffic signs
I was interested to learn that line cutting is a problem on certain runs (Mukilteo, Clinton, Edmonds). I live next door to the Bainbridge Island ferry booths and boarding area where there are occasional problems.
My take on Bainbridge line cutting is that much of it could be prevented by better signage. My observation is that many vehicles that end up in the wrong (left) lane have out-of-state license plates. My conclusion is they don’t understand until the last minute that it is necessary to merge into the right lane. Then, they’re forced to merge right, and often people view this as “line cutting” — and behave hostilely.
— Florence Munat, Bainbridge Island
Last week, my daughter saw two line cutters while she was waiting. I see one almost every time we are coming over from Mukilteo to Clinton.
The only rule-enforcement policy that worked was the one that was used for many years: If two or more witnesses verified that you cut in line, you were sent to the back of the line. Period, no exceptions. One thing Ferries might consider is posting signs along the street stating the cost of a ticket for line cutting. This might deter a few people.
— Monica Shull, Whidbey Island
The bigger problem? Wait times
I agree that it’s highly annoying. It happened to my family recently at Fauntleroy and my wife got out of the car and found a police officer. The person got busted.
One issue that dwarfs line cutting is the long wait times themselves.
Rather than adding another layer of bureaucracy with vouchers, ferry officials must introduce some sort of market mechanism, such as raising fares during peak travel times, to make the wait times more reasonable. This would be a win-win. People would willingly pay to have reduced waits, and the ferry system would gain extra revenue, which it could use to buy more ferries or expand the docks.
— Chris Waldorf, Seattle
A reporting experience
Edmonds has an off-duty police officer directing traffic. I simply pointed out the car that had cut into line and he made them get out of the line. Got thanks from several drivers as I walked back to my car — thanks, too, to the officer!
— Janis Case, Edmonds
A matter of politeness
Thank you for pointing out the sometimes rude behavior of vehicle ferry users. I have been using the ferry system for the last 10 years and find it frustrating when Washington state vehicles take advantage of the rule followers.
— Stan Bovetz, Whidbey Island