‘Save A Spot’ ferry reservation system crashes its first day

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — Customer demand apparently overtaxed the new “Save A Spot” reservation system for state ferries early on its first day Wednesday, but the glitch was fixed by early afternoon.

The Washington State Ferries reservation system for the summer season was scheduled to begin Wednesday on both the Port Townsend-Coupeville route and for commercial trucks and buses on San Juan Island routes, which include Orcas, Shaw, Lopez and Friday Harbor.

The system was taken down shortly after it went online because of what were described as “technical difficulties” but was back up just after 1 p.m.

“The demand on the system exceeded the server capacity,” said Joy Goldenberg, ferry spokeswoman.

“We had done stress tests before starting service, but the problem wasn’t identified at that time,” she said.

The new system allows reservations of up to six months in advance to be made for the summer season, which starts Sunday.

Reservations have been available on the Anacortes-Sidney, B.C., route since June 4. That was not affected by the server problem.

The “Save A Spot” system allows passengers to reserve a spot online on the ferry by opening up to three types of accounts.

The executive account for commercial riders requires an active Wave2Go business account with the state ferries system.

The premier account, which is now available for Port Townsend-Coupeville reservations, requires an active ReValue vehicle multi-ride card for the route, with the customer storing credit-card billing information in the reservations account.

The universal account requires only an email address and a password.

Assistant Transportation Secretary David Moseley has said the system will benefit customers because they will be guaranteed space on the sailings of their choice; it also will help the system manage its ridership.

Moseley said the new system will allow ferries to determine customer wdemand for different routes

The new summer schedule contains what Moseley described to the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce on Monday as an experiment, the shuffling of sailing times to accommodate a later sailing time.

This will make it easier for people to enjoy a night out on the town at either end of the Port Townsend-Coupeville route, Moseley said.

The new schedule adds a 10 p.m. sailing out of Port Townsend and a 10:40 p.m. sailing out of Coupeville on Whidbey Island.

Currently, the latest sailings are 8:30 p.m. from Port Townsend and 9:15 p.m. from Coupeville.

Moseley said the expanded schedule didn’t require more revenue. It was accomplished by eliminating a midday sailing to coincide with the shift change.

A determination as to whether the later sailing schedule will continue will be made in the fall, Moseley said.

Moseley said the system eventually will expand to all state ferries system routes aside from Mukilteo-Clinton and the two Vashon Island ports, due to the short duration of those sailings.

For more information about the “Save a Spot” program, visit http://tinyurl.com/7c4hahb.

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Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at charlie.bermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: June 13. 2012 5:52PM
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