Riders can now reserve spot on ferry

North Olympic Peninsula residents familiar with the Port Townsend to Keystone ferry route know the summer months bring additional traffic and often long lines.

Now, with the retirement of the Steel Electric class ferries in late 2007 and a single, smaller boat carrying the load until the state can purchase new vessels, lines could be even longer, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation.

But the department has a plan to handle the increased load, a reservation system.

Motorcycle and vehicle riders can make reservations up to 30 days in advance for a one-way trip. Round trips require two reservations.

Those holding reservation conformation numbers and a photo ID are given priority in boarding. The earlier the reservation is made, the higher the level of priority.

Those without reservations are allowed to board after those with reservations.

The ferry system is offering the free reservations through the Internet, over the phone and in person at ticketing offices at the two locations. The reservation system is only in effect on the Port Townsend to Keystone route.

Advance reservations are made as early as 30 days in advance up until 4:30 a.m. the day of the sailing. Same-day reservations can be made starting at 4:30 a.m. the day of the sailing up to two hours prior to the time of sailing. Stand-by riders will be allowed to sail only as space is available.

Those who arrive at the terminal less than 30 minutes before their reserved sailing time forfeit their spot and become a stand-by rider. Also, those with reservations may arrive at the terminal no earlier than 90 minutes before the departure time.

“The timing is what should keep the line down,” said Hadley Greene, communication manager with the state ferries. “If there are people ahead of you without a reservation and you do have one, the booth operator will have that person wait in standby or will make them a reservation.”

To make a reservation for the Port Townsend to Keystone ferry route:

• Visit Washington State Ferries online at

• Call the ferry system at 888-808-7977, 206-464-6400 or 5-1-1 between 7 a.m.-9 p.m.

• Visit a Port Townsend or Keystone terminal ticket office.
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