Ferry service between Vancouver Island and Washington State will not be happening this spring and likely this summer.
That’s because the Sidney-San Juan Islands-Anacortes route will not be included in Washington State Ferries‘ spring sailing schedule (April 10 to June 18), which is due to be released later this week.
A spokesperson for WSF told CHEK News in an e-mailed statement that the route was not included because of a significant labour shortage and lack of available vessels.
“While we continue recruiting, hiring, and training, it’s highly unlikely we’ll have crewing available for the Sidney route in this reservation,” a spokesperson for WSF told CHEK News in an e-mailed statement.
Unless the ongoing labour shortage is resolved soon, summer sailings to and from Anacortes are likely to be cancelled as well, according to the spokesperson.
“So, unfortunately, while understanding the economic importance of the Anacortes/Sidney route, we simply don’t have the crewing available to resume it for the foreseeable future.”
Sailings on the Sidney-San Juan Islands-Anacortes route have been halted since March 2020 following a ban on non-essential travel between Canada and the United States due to COVID-19.
Town of Sidney mayor, Cliff McNeil Smith, called the news disappointing but is hopeful the service, which has been around in one form or another since 1922, will return in the near future.
“We recognize that labour shortages are impacting many services and organizations. We remain committed to this ferry route and have heard the same commitment echoed by Washington State Ferries. We are optimistic that the service will return as we emerge from the pandemic,” Smith said in a statement posted on the town’s website.
Smith said the municipality was looking forward to celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the ferry service this year with Anacortes.
WSF has traditionally operated sailings on the Sidney-San Juan Islands-Anacortes during the spring, summer, and fall months in recent years. Although it had the lowest ridership numbers of any WSF route in 2019, the publicly-funded ferry company has previously said the route is profitable.
Black Ball Ferry has resumed operating between Port Angeles and Victoria.