“the largest passenger ferry in the US”
Washington State Ferries is a passenger and automobile ferry service owned and operated by the Washington State Department of Transportation that serves communities on Puget Sound and in the San Juan Islands. It is the largest passenger and automobile ferry fleet in the United States and the third largest in the world by fleet size. The service is also the largest in the world based on the number of vehicles carried, having carried 11 million annually. The ferry system has its origins in the "Mosquito Fleet", a collection of small steamer lines serving the Puget Sound area during the later part of the nineteenth century and early part of the 20th century. By the beginning of the 1930s, two lines remained: the Puget Sound Navigation Company (known as the Black Ball Line) and the Kitsap County Transportation Company. A strike in 1935 forced the KCTC to close, leaving only the Black Ball Line. As of 2012, there are 22 ferries on Puget Sound operated by the state. The largest vessels in this fleet carry up to 2500 passengers and 202 vehicles. They are painted in a distinctive white and green trim paint scheme, and feature double-ended open vehicle decks and bridges at each end so that they do not need to turn around.
Take the ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge Island to get some great views of downtown, Mt. Rainier and Bainbridge Island. It costs $8 for a round trip journey as a pedestrian. The island is very quiet and peaceful with cute shops and restaurants to explore.
You don't NEED to take the ferry if you're just visiting, but you should. For just $8 round trip, you get a nice tour ride to the islands and back. There's even a cafeteria on the ferry if you want to grab a cup of coffee and a snack while you catch the breeze.
The ferries may be a check off point on a list but the people who live out on the islands live and die by them.
They can be a bit flux with time depending on how late it gets. The parking is easy, the price is crazy. You pay to go over the island for the car and each person. If you walk on, it's less expensive but you need someone on the island to pick you up. If driving give yourself plenty of time to line up in the car, once it's full they leave and you could be stuck waiting for the next one.
They have a mini-cafeteria in the main part. It serves decent food and beverages. The view can't be beat and having the ocean breeze is delightful.
Do not set the alarm on your car, it will go off and it annoys those that choose to stay in their car for the ferry trip duration.
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Washington State Ferries Headquarters
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