As the Washington State Ferry system goes, the Clinton to Mukilteo ferry is a relatively short route. The crossing time is only about 20 minutes. However, it is also a fairly important route for those on Whidbey Island as the only bridge on or off the island is at the far north end, and Whidbey Island is a very long island and it is very time consuming to go all the way to the north end of things.
Public transit connections exist on both ends of the ferry route: Island Transit bus route 1 connects the Clinton ferry terminal with much of the rest of Whidbey Island as it runs north all the way to Oak Harbor. On the Mukilteo end of things, the ferry terminal has connections with Community Transit and Sound Transit routes. At the Clinton end of the route, Island Transit bus route 1 is able to deliver passengers to a sheltered area very close to the boarding area for the vessel. At the Mukilteo end of things, bus routes are somewhat more scattered, and there is an ongoing construction project right now to create a multi-modal transportation hub at the Mukilteo end of the ferry route.
Generally two ferries are assigned to this route, allowing for a fairly regular half-hourly departure time schedule to be implemented - with certain sailings only happening on certain days.
Island Transit is the transit service on Whidbey Island. Much of the service is focused on providing service from various connection points (mostly ferries, but also the bridge at the north end of Whidbey Island) to the city of Oak Harbor, which is the economic center of Whidbey Island.
The problem that I ran into with Island Transit services is because of its focal point on Oak Harbor, it wasn't particularly convenient for getting from Fort Casey State Park to the ferry terminal at Clinton - the service simply isn't designed around making a good connection between bus route #6 (which serves Fort Casey State Park and the ferry terminal that is currently known as "Coupville") and bus route #1 (which is the backbone service from Oak Harbor to the ferry at Clinton). Bus route 6 can deliver you from the Fort Casey State Park end of the ferry to a point on highway 525, where you can catch bus route 1 south, but you wind up waiting almost half an hour because the connections at this end of the island are not timed for making this connection. Instead, the route schedule is planned around those making connections in Oak Harbor.
Island County also includes the much smaller Camano Island, and so Island Transit also operates bus service that connects that island to the mainland.
Island Transit is a very small transit district, and operates on a very limited budget. Furthermore, no fares are charged of its riders, as on this small of a transit system it is arguable if the costs of collecting the fares would cost more revenue that the fares would generate.
I found the schedules, especially on routes 1 and 6, to be quite confusing. This is because route 6 operates as a loop service, and therefore buses only serve certain roads at certain times. To make matters more interesting, route 6 doesn't operate on Saturdays, and so route 1 takes over part of route 6 only on Saturdays. This means there are bus stops along bus route 6 that are only served on Saturdays, because bus route 1 serves those roads going both directions rather than making the loop service that bus route 6 does.
Despite its limitations, Island Transit does serve the needs of those getting around on the island without a car, and can provide a useful transportation link to those trying to get to tourist areas. However, just remember that with the limited budget available this transit agency must meet an awful lot of demands.
And, with service currently being provided free of charge, the service is at least much cheaper than any of the other transit services in the immediate area.
Basic route structure is:
Route 1: Ferry Terminal at Clinton north to Oak Harbor. This is the backbone of service on the island, and provides service approximately once every 1/2 hour.
Route 4 runs north from Oak Harbor and connects with Deception Pass State Park and transit services on the north side of the Island.
Local loops operate around Oak Harbor, as well as connecting the military bases on the Island with various points. This includes route 6, which is the only route serving the ferry to Port Townsend on weekdays.
Timetables are simply taped to the bus shelters where there are bus shelters, or at the ferry terminal in Fort Casey State Park they are available inside the ferry terminal building.
- Budget Travel
We left through the south of Whidbey Island by ferry from Clinton to Mukilteo. For a car and two passengers, it cost us $8.50 to take the ferry back to the mainland from Whidbey Island. The ride was only 15 minutes. The ferry does have a snack bar.
Riding aboard the ferry is fun easy and relaxing! Just get in line, buy a ticket drive through style and load up!