WSF has announced that, beginning in early March, the Customer Service Call Center will no longer be open on weekends due to budgetary constraints. What this means is that travelers without internet access will not be able to get information or make, change or cancel ferry reservations reservations on the weekends.
FAC has expressed great concern to WSF about this change, pointing out that many county residents do not have reliable internet and depend on being able to call.
In an email on Feb 23 to legislators, WSF wrote:
The Washington State Ferries' customer service Call Center is currently open from 7am until 5.30pm, seven days a week. The call center helps passengers seeking reservations for travel in the San Juan Islands and between Port Townsend and Coupeville, and answers questions from passengers on all routes.
As we near the end of the biennium, due to a lack of funding for the Call Center, a proviso prohibiting transferring money from our reservation center to it, and an overall budget deficit, we face a budget shortfall in that area. In order to avoid going over budget, we have looked at two scenarios: shortening the call center hours across all seven days of the week, or closing completely on weekends. Most calls (80%) occur on weekdays - with the highest volumes on Wednesday and Fridays, because of the two-day reservations openings before Friday and Sunday sailings in the San Juan Islands - so we've decided closing the call center on weekends would be the most cost-effective and the least disruptive. Web Agents will continue to work on weekends and will be available to assist with urgent needs, such as sending service email alerts and retrieving lost passwords.
This change will begin in early March and will continue through the end of the biennium. We will monitor weekend call volume and if the closure is too disruptive, adjust accordingly. The call center's voicemail will direct callers needing tourist information for the San Juan Islands to the local Chamber of Commerce, and all callers will be told how to contact a web agent.
At the end of the biennium, we will assess the success of closing on weekends, consulting with Ferry Advisory Committees and reviewing feedback from the public, and will then decide on any changes to Call Center hours going forward.
John B. Vezina
Government Affairs Liaison
Washington State Ferries