Clarification on medical priority and reservations

There has been some concerns and confusion regarding vehicle reservations and Medical Priority loading. I contacted Brian Churchwell, Reservations Program Manager asking for clarification on medical priority loading and reservations, and this is his reply:

“There has been a lot of confusion around the medical priority.  The medical priority has not been changed with the deployment of vehicle reservations.  The Washington Administrative Code still says customers may receive a medical priority with their doctor if the wait is detrimental to their health.  Medical priorities are provided access to the vehicle space prior to reservation holders and standby vehicles.

“Our challenges that is impacting Orcas Island and Friday Harbor is that some customers are using this medical priority to go to a planned doctor’s appointment, including items like scheduled chemo appointment. The intent of the WAC was for customers returning from a procedure so they wouldn’t have to wait in line. Our desire is that customers make a reservation to go to the appointment, when that appointment is made in advance, and there is available space. This helps our terminal staff to plan ahead the number of vehicles planned to travel on the sailing and communicate to customers without reservations the likelihood they will get on the sailing.

“We are trying to communicate to our medical priority customers that we recommend that they make a reservation both to/from their doctor.  When they travel on their reserved sailing, we will redeem their reservation and place them in line with the medical priorities.  Understandably, some appointments run longer than planned.  If that occurs, they can still use the medical priority to get on a later sailing.  We will redeem their reservation so they aren’t charged a no-show fee and place them in line with the medical priorities.”

If you have questions or concerns about medical priority, or other issues related to vehicle reservations, you can contact Brian at:

Brian Churchwell
VRS Program Manager



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