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Transportation

State to announce name of its first hybrid-electric ferry

A large ferry on Puget Sound with mountains in the background.
Washington State Department of Transportation
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A Washington state ferry sails on Puget Sound. The state's newest ferry, a hybrid-electric boat, will carry 144 cars when it debuts in 2024.

Washington’s newest state ferry will get its name Tuesday afternoon, after a months-long public process. It’s the system’s first hybrid-electric boat and will carry 144 cars when it enters service in 2024. The state transportation commission will choose the winning moniker from six finalists’ proposals.

Reema Griffith, the commission’s executive director, says those were culled down from 19 that met the state’s strict criteria. She says the public was not shy with ideas, which included some cheeky suggestions such as Sir-Floats-Alot, Always Late, and Kevin.

We had almost a thousand different emails come in, with just kind of one-off name suggestions. That unfortunately doesn't comprise a proposal,” Griffith says. “We really actually need to see folks do some homework, make a pitch, if you will, but also do some outreach to indicate that there's support for it.”

The finalists also needed to carry statewide or regional significance, fit in with the rest of the fleet names and have some public support.

The six that made the cut are: Wishkah, Stillaguamish, Snoqualmie, Enie Marie, Stehekin and Muckleshoot.

Most of those are river names with tribal significance. Enie Marie was the nickname of Chief Seattle’s granddaughter, a woman who had both European and Salish roots. The proposal says she represents a link between the past and a new future, just as the new hybrid ferry will.

Griffith says many of our ferries stay in the fleet for more than 60 years.

"So, maybe a lot of time on the water. And they want to make sure the name we pick is going to have a lasting impression,” she says.    

The commissioners will consider public survey results and comments as well as input from the ferry system’s leadership. They’re scheduled to make their decision at 3:40 p.m. Tuesday, in a public meeting accessible via Zoom. You must register to attend using this link. The meeting will also be broadcast live on TVW.