Water Taxi update: June ridership sails past last year’s levels

July 8, 2008 at 3:00 pm | In Elliott Bay Water Taxi, Transportation, West Seattle news | 15 Comments

wtrtxi.jpgJust in from the office of West Seattle’s King County Councilmember Dow ConstantineElliott Bay Water Taxi ridership for June has been tallied and it’s 14 percent higher than last year, following a double-digit increase for the preceding month — news release with full details, ahead:

Water Taxi hotter than Summer
Ridership continues to rise as warm weather arrives

Despite a drizzly, blustery May and a month of June that wasn’t much better, the Elliott Bay Water Taxi is continuing to show strong ridership as the bulk of the summer season approaches.

Ridership for the month of June was up 14 percent over last year’s record pace. This June, 30,046 riders rode the Water Taxi, compared to 26,329 last June. This follows a 17 percent increase for the month of May and the last week of April. The downtown-to-Seacrest Park run has served a total of 59,386 riders since opening its 2008 summer season on April 27. Sunday ridership is up 42 percent from 2007.

“The continued success of the Elliott Bay Water Taxi is testimony that foot ferries can play an important role in meeting our future transportation needs,” said Metropolitan King County Councilmember Dow Constantine, whose district includes Southwest Seattle. “As we face the prospect of millions more moving to this region in the next 20 years, it is crucial that we continue to expand our transportation uses of our region’s navigable waters to provide the citizens of King County with more commuting options.”

In the summer of 2007, the Water Taxi carried a record 161,331 passengers. Both of the past two seasons have seen annual ridership increases of more than 32 percent. It is expected that with the arrival of warmer weather and continued high gasoline prices that the Water Taxi will continue to break previous ridership records this summer.

This is the first year that the Elliott Bay Water Taxi has been funded by the newly established King County Ferry District. This has allowed King County to use the money that previously funded water taxi service on expanded bus service. The Ferry District plans to move the Elliott Bay Water Taxi to year-round service in Spring 2010 with improved docks and boats.

The fare for the Elliott Bay Water Taxi fare is $3 for anyone over the age of 5. Passengers with a valid Metro transfer pay just $1. Also accepted for full fare are PugetPasses, FlexPasses, Metro Access Passes, Visitor Passes, Vanpool Passes, Saturday/Sunday Day Passes, and Regional Reduced Fare Permits with a valid monthly or annual sticker. The 2008 Water Taxi season runs through Friday, Oct. 31.

For more information on the Elliott Bay Water Taxi, call (206) 553-3000 (TTY 206-684-1739). Riders can check on the current operating status of the Water Taxi by calling (206) 205-3866.

15 Comments

  1. That’s great, but every night it’s late for the 4:40 run home from the pier… Would be nice if they could get it back on time especially for commuters who have are trying to pick kids up just after 5.

    Comment by jeff — 4:24 pm July 8, 2008 #

  2. I realize this is of minimal importance, but… didn’t they sell beer and wine on the Water Taxi last year? I was disappointed (or sadly mistaken) to see beer missing from the menu on a recent evening trip, as I’d jokingly promised my out-of-towners ‘the world’s cheapest and shortest booze cruise!’

    Even without beer, hooray for the Water Taxi.

    Comment by Keith — 4:47 pm July 8, 2008 #

  3. Funny you ask.
    The topic “beer and wine on the Water Taxi” was mentioned on a recent agenda of the King County Ferry District; I asked Dow C’s office and they said it was just an informational item for future consideration. Can’t remember if they sold it last year; about the only thing we’ve ever bought to drink on the EBWT is a Snapple …

    Comment by WSB — 4:51 pm July 8, 2008 #

  4. Hi–I work for Dow and wanted to post a few quick items. First, we are aware of and are working on solving the problems with the 4:40 boat. Second, beer and wine has not been sold before on the Water Taxi. We are looking into offering this service. The main problem is the relatively short crossing and the need to avoid having people chug to get off the boat. The Ferry District is looking at options and may try something on a trial basis.

    Comment by Chris Arkills — 6:06 pm July 8, 2008 #

  5. How about a smaller glass of beer/wine for half the price?

    Comment by add — 6:10 pm July 8, 2008 #

  6. Even though you may be super busy this summer, make sure you take a trip (it’s a great thing to do with friends, visitors, etc.) this summer on the Water Taxi to get those ridership numbers up, and keep this amazing service going (maybe someday year-round).

    Comment by Michael Stusser — 6:19 pm July 8, 2008 #

  7. Local beer-on-tap samplers served in Dixie Cups (or more earth-friendly recyclables), discount if you bring in your own shot glasses!

    Comment by Irukandji — 6:21 pm July 8, 2008 #

  8. ok, that booze cruise comment was the best one today!

    Comment by paul — 8:39 pm July 8, 2008 #

  9. Chris,
    Considering how much of the time it sits idle, can’t we at least get the shuttle bus on a longer and more sensible circulator route? As long as the ferry departures are as far apart as they are, we ought to be able to get more mileage out of the shuttle and have the water taxi serve more West Seattleites. Metro thinks no one in Morgan or Westwood or Delridge is interested? That’s clearly not true – so we all drive to the Junction. That’s not sustainable and it ain’t making best use of public transit. What say? In the meantime, as I’ve said before, it’s really the Alki/Admiral Water Taxi.

    Comment by chas redmond — 10:30 pm July 8, 2008 #

  10. The Water Taxi is great, but I think the boat could get us home on time if loading and paying fares was improved. It’s run like a tour boat and not a form of transit. Paying at the door may work for a relatively small bus, but not for a boat. Too many people. When I rode the subway in New York last week, or when I ride BART in the Bay Area next week, I will pay before I get to the door of the train . .

    Comment by William — 7:30 am July 9, 2008 #

  11. Now that the numbers are way up, the afternoon boats are extremely late. Yesterday’s 5:20 sailing was about 25 – 30 minutes late. I would hate to only use the water taxi when the weather is colder and the ridership is down.

    I usually bike, but when I use the shuttles I am very frustrated. After getting off the boat you need to wait a long time before actually leaving. You just sit there for 7 – 10 minutes while the driver reads a book. Something could be done hopefully to make this element of the service work better.

    I am glad to see the popularity increase however we just need to find a way to accomodate the increase w/o compromising the efficiency.

    Comment by SA — 10:34 am July 9, 2008 #

  12. i completely agree with Chas’s comment – make the transit connections to the water taxi more efficient and practical, and more people will take it. i live in the morgan junction area and work in pioneer square. i love the idea of the water taxi; what’s stopping me from using it is the lack of a good transit connection between morgan junction and the water taxi terminal. walking or bussing up to alaska junction to catch the shuttle adds enough time and hassle to the trip that it tips the balance in favor of taking a bus to downtown instead.

    Comment by ben — 11:36 am July 9, 2008 #

  13. A couple of additions: I asked the WT crew if they track how late they are in addition to how many people board the boat (I cheated and looked at the tally sheet before I asked). The crewman said, “No, we don’t track that…” and then told me they load people as fast as possible.

    Based on my recent experience, the 5:20 sailing is more like a 5:35ish sailing. The Argosy staff at Pier 55 is inconsistent with pre-loading on the dock (sometimes they do sometimes the 5:15 Harbor Cruise is more important). Mind you I like the hardworking crew of the Sightseer; however, delaying the 5:20 runs smack into the ferries 5:32-5:35 departure, which then sets the WT back even more.

    If ridership is up 14%, then so is revenue for Argosy. If tracking departure delays is not a metric to judge payments on, then Argosy will do a “catch as catch can” approach as they do currently. At some point the WT has to become less of a boutique commuter and cruise passenger/local visitor “sightseeing” trip and more like transit if ridership is to go up. While this may steal some of the romance from the trip, it will make my commute time more tolerable. Given the bite of the new ferry district, we deserve it.

    Comment by JayDee — 7:45 pm July 9, 2008 #

  14. The model remains the Vancouver-North Vancouver sea-bus. Check their schedule and hours and note that the distance traveled is nearly equal – SeaBus schedule.

    Comment by chas redmond — 12:37 am July 10, 2008 #

  15. I agree with JayDee. The Argosy contract needs to be better managed. I think the Argosy crews work hard, however there needs to be a mental shift made from running a tour boat for people on vacation vs. a reliable transit system for people getting to work and home again on a tight schedule. Now that we are all paying the new property tax to support the Ferry District (which I gladly pay), let’s see the Ferry District put in place a safe, efficient and fun option for commuters.

    Comment by William — 7:29 am July 10, 2008 #

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