SEATTLE – A Washington state ferry lost power on the ferry system’s busiest route Tuesday, stranding hundreds of passengers in the Puget Sound until the vessel could be towed to the dock.
The Tacoma was traveling from Seattle to Bainbridge Island with 405 passengers and 138 cars on board when it lost propulsion shortly before 1 p.m., Washington State Ferries spokeswoman Marta Coursey said.
The Tacoma dropped anchor to await help and was eventually towed to Bainbridge Island. Another ferry that was on the Bremerton-to-Seattle run, the Sealth, had been rerouted to be on standby status next to the Tacoma.
The Tacoma docked at about 3 p.m. It would be towed to a repair dock so engineers could try to determine why it lost power, ferry officials said.
Passenger Van Badzik told the Associated Press that passengers noticed lights flickering on and off for several minutes, then the vessel lost power and started drifting.
“We were starting to near the destination when we noticed something was wrong,” he said.
Badzik said the captain kept passengers informed and the crew acted professionally.
“For the most part, it’s been a calm and collected operation,” he said. “People seem to be enjoying a different and unique experience for all of us longtime ferry riders.”
The passengers who were delayed would receive vouchers good for one trip on the ferry system.
Washington State Ferries operates the largest ferry fleet in the United States, carrying about 23 million passengers annually. The Tacoma, one of the largest vessels in the fleet, is 460 feet long and can carry up to 2,500 passengers and 202 vehicles.
The ferries are part of Washington’s state highway system.