Recent incidents involving both San Francisco and Seattle ferries have raised some thought provoking questions on how safe ferry travel really may be. Although the issues in the two West Coast cities were very different – your safety hung in the balance for both situations. We’re going to take a close look at these two ferry issues and let you judge for yourself.
An Alcatraz-bound ferry boat struck large rocks on December 6th. The crew was tested for both drugs and alcohol, but tested negative for both. The "Royal Prince" hit the rocks around 3pm, and both passengers and crew were safely removed from the ferry after the incident. The Coast Guard combed the area for environmental damage with both boats and helicopters, but found none. The Royal Prince ferry (photo above) is operated by the Red and White ferry company – one of two major ferry companies serving San Francisco since 1892.
San Francisco’s Coast Guard has been criticized for a November accident that spilled 58,000 gallons of fuel after a cargo boat accident. The November 7th crash closed both beaches and impacted fishing in San Francisco Bay.
Three Port Townsend bound ferries were removed from service in November due to severe pitting on the hulls. Ferry service to Port Townsend (near Seattle) was severely curtailed during that period. The boats were deemed so damaged that repairs were not viable. Temporary ferry service is being provided by private contractors until replacement boats can be permanently put into service. During the ferry service break – businesses in Port Townsend were devastated. Originally, a newer 144 car boat was planned – but was shelved due to traffic concerns in earlier years. Approximate cost will be close to $64 million to put the new boats into service.