Reservation system might not be so bad | Editorial

Change can be unsettling, just by the nature of it.

When it happens to something very familiar, something very important, like travel on the state ferry system, change may seem even that much more of a headache.

We get that.

Still, the reservation system that’s ready to unfold for future ferry travel in the San Juans could end up proving to be a tremendously effective tool, especially for islanders. And for those that regularly commute to the mainland? Maybe even more so.

We encourage each and every islander to be patient, give it a chance  and, even more importantly, to go online and set up a reservation account and experiment with it. And then, use it to your utmost advantage.

Reservations are not required. Keep that in mind. And it’s unlikely that you’ll need one to catch your preferred sailing for the better part of the year, like now (although it might prove beneficial a year from now when you’re making holiday travel plans, either off or back to the islands).

It appears, from our vantage point, plenty of safeguards have been built into the system to prevent abuse, and that there’s also enough flexibility to accommodate the inevitable change in plans.

Furthermore, reservations appear to be working rather well on the Port Townsend-Keystone route. We also can’t recall ever seeing WSF quite as committed as it appears to be in working to smooth out the wrinkles of a new project.

It’s worse than wishful thinking to count on the Legislature to come up with a pot full of money to build a bunch more boats or bigger terminals to handle an increasing number of travelers. So far this year, ridership is up in the San Juans by 5.3 percent from this time a year ago, and that’s with a slight dip on the international run as well.

Like it or not, the reservation system is here to stay, or at least be with us for some time. So, make good use of it.

Let’s face it, catching a boat at the height of the summer season  takes a good deal of forethought and craftiness anyway. Having a reservation might just make that task a lot less stressful.

Vehicle reservations for Jan. 5 through March 21 are now available on the San Juan Island routes. Online reservations are available 24/7 at

– Scott Rasmussen, Journal editor