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Report: Ferry Tacoma’s damage even worse than first thought

SEATTLE — More bad news for ferry riders.

Damage to the ferry Tacoma, which operates on the busiest commuter route in the area, is worse than expected.

A Washington State Ferries official told the Kitsap Sun that the ferry is being assessed at Eagle Harbor Maintenance Facility. Officials hoped to announce a plan to repair the vessel this week, but now it could take several more weeks.

Interim director George Capacci told the newspaper the ferries system will conduct its highest level of investigation to determine the cause, any contributing factors and then come up with a recommendation.

The “Tacoma” lost power in the middle of the Puget Sound at the end of July. 405 passengers were stranded until a tugboat arrived to tow the ferry back to shore.

That led to major delays on other ferry routes.

Capacci apologized for the major disruption more than a week ago.

“It was an unprecedented situation,” he said. “The fact we had two boats in regularly scheduled maintenance, two boats had incidents that took them out of service, is just something that we never planned for and never really experienced before.”

The ferry system has had its share of problems in the past, with cancellations because of staffing shortages, and problems with the newest ferry, the Tokitae. The man in charge calls the system fragile, with an aging fleet.

Capacci also pointed out that this year there has only been 99 missed sailings out of 163,000.

The lifespan of a ferry in Washington is about 60 years. Right now the state is in the process of adding two more new Olympic Class ferries to the fleet.

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