M/V Hiyu will serve Tacoma-Vashon through February

The Point Defiance/Tahlequah (Tacoma to south Vashon Island) route will continue to operate at reduced capacity until the end of February while scheduled maintenance and annual inspection are completed on the 48-car Rhododendron.

The 34-car Hiyu has operated on the route since the Rhododendron went out of service on Jan. 6.

The Rhododendron is scheduled to leave the commercial shipyard mid-February, then go to the Eagle Harbor Maintenance Facility where crews will perform extensive maintenance including critical work on the steering systems, repairs to salt water strainers and associated piping, and prepare the vessel for required annual inspection. The Rhododendron is scheduled to return to service on the Point Defiance/Tahlequah route on approximately Sunday, March 1.

To assist customers on this route, WSF added an additional midday roundtrip sailing departing from Point Defiance at 12:50 p.m. and Tahlequah at 1:15 p.m.

WSF will continue to accept temporary carpools during the remainder of the service reduction. Carpools with at least three people get preferential loading over single occupancy vehicles. To sign up for a temporary carpool permit, email Customer Programs Manager Nicole Patrick at patricn@wsdot.wa.gov, or call (206) 515-3857 for assistance.

Customers should continue to plan for longer wait times during busy commute periods. Drivers are advised to arrive early and to consider using the Fauntleroy/Vashon/Southworth route for travel to and from Vashon Island. With no backup vessels in the ferry system, WSF must plan vessel assignments to accommodate maintenance needs while minimizing disruptions to customers. This becomes especially difficult during the fall/winter maintenance season when more vessels must be removed from service for annual maintenance and inspections.

For more ferry system information, visit the WSF Web site at http://wsdot.wa.gov/ferries. To sign up for free e-mail alerts about service disruptions and other route information, click on the link in the far left column of the Web site.