Facts about ferry reservations | Guest column

by MARGOT SHAW

Orcas Island

Starting Jan. 5, 2015, reservations will take effect for vehicle travel between Anacortes and the San Juan Islands. Reservations may be made starting Dec. 2.

For the past two years, I’ve been a participant in the Washington State Ferries Reservations Partnership committee meetings, helping to develop the best plan for our complex Anacortes/San Juans ferry route. Many of the details are similar to the Port Townsend/Coupeville, Sydney and our own commercial reservation plans, which are already in place.

The challenge was to find a way to benefit the local population as well as to encourage tourists to spread out their planned sailings to the less “popular” sailing times.  Thus the tiered release system was created, whereby percentages of the vehicle spaces available on any sailing will be released for reservations at different times.

The plan is: two months before the sailing day, 30 percent of the spaces will be available to reserve. Two weeks before sailing, the next 30 percent will be available. Two days before sailing, the next 30 percent will be released. Ten percent will always be available for emergency vehicles, medical preferential load folks and drive-ups (no reservation). Reservations, changes or cancellations may be made multiple times up to 5 p.m. the day before sailing. One free change may be made between 5 p.m. and three hours before sailing.

For complete details on the new system, go to “TakeaFerry.com,” where you can find the PDF documents.

Reservation accounts may be set up now, online or by phone: 205-515-3885. It is the same account as for the current reservation routes.

On Sat., Nov. 1 at the Orcas Library, WSF representatives will give three presentation and Q&A sessions:    2 to 3:15 p.m., 3:30 to 4:45 p.m. and 5 to 6 p.m.

I am happy to take any comments or questions you may have and/or send you my  “Guide to the Website” and “A Few Key Points.” Email me at mshaworcas@yahoo.com.