Washington State Ferries


Washington State Ferries (WSF) is a
government agency A government or state agency, sometimes an appointed commission, is a permanent or semi-permanent organization in the machinery of government that is responsible for the oversight and administration of specific functions, such as an Administratio ...
that operates automobile and passenger
ferry at Samothrace island, Northern Aegean, Aegean Sea. File:Spirit of America - Staten Island Ferry.jpg, The Staten Island Ferry in the United States shuttles commuting, commuters between Manhattan and Staten Island in New York City. A ferry is ...

service in the
U.S. state In the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a W ...
Washington Washington commonly refers to: * Washington (state), United States * Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States ** Federal government of the United States (metonym) ** Washington metropolitan area, the metropolitan area centered on Washingt ...
as part of the
Washington State Department of Transportation The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT or WashDOT) is a governmental agency that constructs, maintains, and regulates the use of transportation infrastructure in the U.S. state of Washington. Established in 1905, it is led by a ...
. It runs ten routes serving 20 terminals located around Puget Sound and in the San Juan Islands, designated as part of the State highways in Washington, state highway system. The agency maintains the largest fleet of ferries in the United States at 23 vessels, carrying 24.2 million passengers in 2016. , it was the largest ferry operator in the United States, and the second-largest vehicular ferry system in the world.


The ferry system has its origins in the "Puget Sound mosquito fleet, mosquito fleet", a collection of small steamer lines serving the Puget Sound area during the later part of the nineteenth century and early part of the 20th century. By the beginning of the 1930s, two lines remained: the Puget Sound Navigation Company (known as the Puget Sound Navigation Company, Black Ball Line) and the Kitsap County Transportation Company. A strike action, strike in 1935 caused the KCTC to close, leaving only the Black Ball Line.History of Washington State Ferry system
wsdot.com, retrieved March 15, 2008
Toward the end of the 1940s, the Black Ball Line wanted to increase its fares, to compensate for increased wage demands from the ferry workers' trade union, unions, but the state refused to allow this, and so the Black Ball Line shut down. In 1951, the state bought nearly all of Black Ball's ferry assets for $5 million (Black Ball retained five vessels of its fleet). The state intended to run ferry service only until cross-sound bridges could be built, but these were never approved, and the Washington State Department of Transportation runs the system to this day.



, there are 21 ferries on Puget Sound operated by the state.Washington State Ferries - Our Fleet
Washington State Department of Transportation, Retrieved June 16, 2020
The largest vessels in this fleet carry up to 2500 passengers and 202 vehicles. They are painted in a distinctive white and green trim paint scheme, and feature double-ended open vehicle decks and bridges at each end so that they do not need to turn around. WSF plans to electrify its fleet over 20 years. By 2024, it intends to build 16 new hybrid-electric vessels and convert six others to have hybrid propulsion. This will reduce carbon emissions by up 180,000 tons annually and save $19 million per year in diesel fuel costs. The ferry fleet consists of the following vessels:

Retired vessels

Since the beginning of state-run ferry service in 1951, WSF has retired many vessels as they have become older, too expensive to operate or maintain, or have become too small to provide adequate ferry service. WSF owned passenger-only vessels between 1985 and 2009, but after discontinuing its two passenger-only routes in the 2000s, WSF has sold its passenger-only ferries to other operators. Below is a list of ferries that WSF has retired since 1951. Unless otherwise noted, all vessels introduced in 1951 were acquired from the Puget Sound Navigation Company (PSN), also known as the Black Ball Line, when the state took over the company's routes and ferryboats in Puget Sound.

Other ferries

There are several other publicly operated, private, and passenger-only ferries in Washington state.

See also

*Alaska Marine Highway *BC Ferries *Puget Sound Navigation Company, Black Ball Line *Ferries in Washington State *Inter-Island Ferry Authority *Keller Ferry *King County Water Taxi *Kitsap Fast Ferries *Seattle tugboats


External links

Evergreenfleet.com – A History of Washington State Ferries Past and Present
{{Puget Sound Transit Washington State Ferries, Sound Transit Ferries of Washington (state) Ferry companies based in Washington (state)