BREMERTON — Kitsap Transit said Thursday that it will again tweak the boarding process for reservation-holders in January, a change that comes a week after the agency announced it had overbooked the most popular sailings this month.
When the agency announced on Dec. 26 that the January sailings (the daily 6:45 a.m. from Bremerton and 5:10 p.m. from Seattle) had been overbooked, it said it would honor reservations on a first-come, first served basis. Reservation-holders therefore needed to arrive at the dock early to ensure they would get seats.
On Thursday, the agency changed the process. Beginning Monday, the first 88 reservations that were booked when the reservation period opened on Dec. 1 will be honored for each sailing, with 30 seats available for walk-ons.
All reservation holders will get an email telling them which of their bookings are valid or not before Monday, spokesman Sanjay Bhatt said.
Kitsap Transit made the cutoff by going through reservation timestamps and looking for the first 88 reservations.
"For a given sailing, the first 88 that came in are valid," Bhatt said.
Kitsap Transit will also no longer offer the first 30 volunteers to give up their seat a pass to ride the WSF car ferry on the trip from Seattle.
The decision was made based on the results of a survey of reservation-holders between Dec. 29 and Jan. 3, which was sent out after customers complained about the first-come, first served model.
Several commuters suggested cutting off the reservations at 88 like normal, Bhatt said.
"We wanted to give all reservation holders a chance to weigh in on this question, and enough time to be notified of a change, to make changes accordingly," Bhatt said.
The survey, which had about 200 responses, asked reservation holders if they would rather continue with the free-for-all plan, honor the first 88 reservations, or hold a complete do-over for January reservations. The majority of respondents chose the second option.
The overbookings were caused by a glitch in Kitsap Transit's reservation system. On Dec. 1, when the window for making January reservations opened, customers saw two options for every sailing, each with a different number of available seats.
RocketRez, the company that provides the reservation software, had made an update to the system prior to the opening of the reservation window. The update allowed reservations to be made on New Year's Day, when the ferry didn't run. Kitsap Transit closed the first window, deleting the reservations of the passengers in that period, and reopened it.
So far, the overbooking doesn't seem to have been as serious of a problem as Kitsap Transit anticipated. According to Bhatt, no reservation holders have been left at the dock for either the 6:45 a.m. or 5:10 p.m. sailings.