House Republican transportation lead Rep. Andrew Barkis reacts to the staff shortage aboard Washington State Ferries

Rep. Andrew Barkis, R-Olympia, ranking Republican on the House Transportation Committee, released the following statement on the cancellations of Washington State Ferries due to the staff shortage:

“It's no secret we have a transportation problem in this state and that our priorities have become misplaced. The Washington State Ferry system is the latest to feel the impacts of the bow wave created by staffing challenges, shortages, and the governor's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for state workers.

“People throughout our island communities and beyond depend on a reliable ferry system to get them to and from work, medical appointments, and other daily tasks. We can't expect people to wait in line at a ferry terminal for hours, anticipating catching a ferry, only to find out there isn't enough staff to operate the boat, thus leaving them stranded on one side of the line or the other.

“This is a critical issue our ferry workers and riders have been battling since early spring. Rather than the problem getting better, it continues to get worse. The governor's vaccine mandate adds another layer to the problem and continues to create safety hazards. It's disingenuous to claim he is saving lives while putting others in jeopardy. Ferries provide a lifeline to emergency services for hundreds of thousands of travelers in our state. Not having the proper staffing levels – and canceling scheduled ferry runs – puts people at risk. Safety should be the number one priority.

“Something needs to be done to address this labor shortage. I have asked the Joint Transportation Committee (JTC) to study the current staffing issues. The study is underway, and I hope it will provide needed information and clarification on the best ways to solve this critical problem.

“I also call on the governor to work with us to find common ground on this crisis, rather than his one-size-fits-all approach to decision-making. His decisions are costing people their jobs and livelihoods. It's time to work together before the unintended consequences of his decisions cost someone their life. The people of Washington state deserve better.”


Washington State House Republican Communications