For the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2011 (April 1—June 30), 5.8 million people traveled on the Ferry system, about 93,000 (1.6%) below the levels projected from June 2010. Compared to the same quarter one year ago, WSF served about 86,500 more riders (1.5%).
Quarterly ridership continues to lag projections, as the public continues to choose less discretionary travel, including ferry travel, as a response to the recent spike in fuel prices which began in February, and the ongoing recovery from the economic downturn.
Some of the challenges to maintaining ferry ridersihp WSF faces include:
- Changing population demographics
- Changing work patterns
- A slow economy (impacting discretionary and employment travel)
- Competition from other travel options like the Tacoma Narrows Bridge
- Fare increases
Some of the strategies WSF is using to address these challenges include:
- A reservation system to spread demand to off‐peak times and make travel more predictable
- New vessels that allow for increased capacity and service reliability on the Port Townsend‐Coupeville route
- A new fare structure that adds a small car category