9-day Viaduct shutdown: Making the Water Taxi easier to use

(Photo courtesy Debra Herbst, taken @ Seacrest 7/20/11, when big events boosted WT ridership)
After last Monday’s announcement of the official dates for October’s 9-day/10-night Alaskan Way Viaduct construction/demolition closure, some asked about the West Seattle Water Taxi – would it add more runs during the shutdown? The short answer from King County was, no – runs were already added earlier this year, and the service was finally extended to be year-round. However, Michelle Allison from the office of King County Councilmember Joe McDermott (who chairs the King County Ferry District Board, an alter-ego of the KC Council) says they are working on ideas for making it more “accessible” during that time. In particular, she told WSB, they’re trying to figure out if they can ease the parking crunch for people trying to get to Seacrest to catch the WT, since the shuttle/bus routes don’t work for everyone. Any specific ideas – that would be easily implementable, temporarily and quickly – that YOU think would make the WT easier to use?

P.S. Yet another reminder – the West Seattle Water Taxi is on a Sunday schedule tomorrow (Labor Day), as are its shuttle buses, while the Vashon Water Taxi won’t run at all.

32 Replies to "9-day Viaduct shutdown: Making the Water Taxi easier to use"

  • Twobottles September 4, 2011 (6:34 pm)

    Run the shuttles through the last evening WT.. I often avoid the evening WT due to the fact I’d be stuck at Seacrest with no way home (I live in north Admiral)

  • Noelle September 4, 2011 (6:37 pm)

    Could there be a “Park and Ride” set up somewhere and the Water Taxi Shuttle could meet people and take them down to Seacrest?

  • eileen September 4, 2011 (7:01 pm)

    Ditto for a park and ride situation. Also – a larger shuttle. There’s not way those tiny darts can handle a larger load.
    Have two crew reading peoples orca cards so we can board faster.

  • bebecat September 4, 2011 (7:16 pm)

    Move the whole Water Taxi operation down to Jack Block Park where there is parking and there is not the enviornmental damage done to the natural fish feeding hole under the taxi docking area…the Taxi has destroyed the fishing off the dock. That dock WAS a fisherman’s dream. Shame on the Country for not doing an enviornmental impact study before starting that Taxi service.

  • foy boy September 4, 2011 (7:24 pm)

    parking,parking, parking, Oh did I say parking. Noelle, as much needed as a large scale park an ride is needed, the city seems to feel it is not needed. But we can keep asking. After all mornning traffic out of westseattle is a total brezzzzzeeee, hahaha. PS why is the city asking the people what to do? They never seem to listen. If you come up with an idea that makes perfect sense they will shoot it down because they did not think of it first .

    • WSB September 4, 2011 (8:12 pm)

      Foy – (a) This is the county, not the city. (b) They actually aren’t asking, but while speaking with them, I got the impression they would be open to more ideas, so that’s why I included the question – you never know when somebody might have a brilliant idea that really, they hadn’t thought of and wouldn’t think of. I think the parking issue is close to game/set/match, and I mentioned it myself – TR

  • bg September 4, 2011 (8:02 pm)

    I concur with the twobottles, why in the hell do they have a water taxi that runs late in the evening, but the last bus is at 7:30? I found this out the hard way, on a day where there were events downtown even. So I had a nice healthy brisk walk up a dark hill because I assumed that there would be a bus. I’m just glad I’m not the woman that had a small sleepy child with her.

  • ksinws September 4, 2011 (8:22 pm)

    Ditto on Park and Ride. And would LOVE to see similar conversation on how to make LIGHT RAIL station in SODO easier to use as well! Thanks WSB!

  • Lindsey September 4, 2011 (8:47 pm)

    I would LOVE if they could have more transportation to the water taxi and if they could make the city side drop off more convenient by buzzing up north just a bit (I realize this is personal and maybe improbable).If they could also extend the hours for the water taxi, (earlier and later) I think it would ease the congestion. Though times before 7 am and after 6:30 pm are currently not so awful on 99, I’m sure the congestion will significantly increase early in the morning and especially late in the eveing during this time in October.

  • jw September 4, 2011 (9:09 pm)

    Expand the shuttle service (run later and cover a larger area) so people don’t need to drive down there. And run one along Delridge, we promise to behave while on the boat. It’s a long walk home from Salty’s after happy hour.

  • DM September 4, 2011 (9:16 pm)

    I wish there was a shuttle for the water taxi that serviced the East side of West Seattle.

  • kr September 4, 2011 (9:25 pm)

    In its current form, ie with moderate ridership, the water taxi works pretty well. The extended shuttles would be a great help for evening commutes.

    However, I think the one thing that I think will help if/when we end up with 150 some riders per trip like we did a few years ago is signage or staff explaining exactly how to get tickets at both ends of the trip.

    There needs to be crystal clear signage at the top of the piers that explains how and where to get tickets with cash or plastic. Both sides of the trip have machines that give tickets but they are off in places where a first timer would not expect or necessarily see them. There have been many times where someone tries to get on only to have to walk back to the end of the pier and get a ticket, often missing the boat. If there were someone directing traffic and helping wayward travelers then we would not have the back up anytime someone realizes that they don’t have proper change. This greeter/traffic director could also scan Orca cards as people go down the ramp instead of waiting till they get on the boat.

  • Lorelee September 4, 2011 (9:40 pm)

    I second KR’s comments. And while the “loop” shuttle seems like a good idea, it gets those of us taking the admiral loop there too much too early- ie- we get dropped off at 7:30 am for the 7:45am ferry (and the only coffee shop down there stinks -there’s a business opp here!) which is much too long of a wait in the am. I’d like A shuttle that is timed right for drop off and/or one that heads back and forth california to the alaska junction.

  • out for a walk September 4, 2011 (9:41 pm)

    I love the concept and would use the water taxi and metro transit but: 1) never seems to be going when or where I need it to go 2)takes far more time to use than getting in my car and driving 3)seems scary with possible muggings, thugs, etc. lomming about. I am totally supportive of the concept, but until you can get me to where I need to go, in almost the same amount of time, and assure me that I will arrive there safely…. I will continue to drive my car!

  • Ferry Rider September 4, 2011 (10:17 pm)

    I live down by the Fauntelroy Terminal and would love to take the WT since the bus service back home at night is so limited (last 116 run from DT is ~5:30 and I work a long ways from any 54 stop). Give me an easy option to get from the ferry terminal to the WT and I’ll ride it all year long.

  • TW September 4, 2011 (10:19 pm)

    How about a shuttle from the existing Park and Ride under the bridge? I’d rather pick that up than a bus that will be stuck in traffic during the closure.

  • austin September 4, 2011 (10:57 pm)

    There already kind of is a shuttle from the park and ride under the bridge, the water taxi shuttle stops across the street from luna park cafe on avalon and again sort of next to the cat rescue place on harbor ave.. But then you’re at the mercy of the shuttle schedule. Alternately its about a twenty minute walk between the park & ride and the water taxi, though weekday a.m. street parking along harbor ave a bit closer in is usually fairly open as well.

  • SrslySharon September 5, 2011 (7:49 am)

    How about a shuttle down California ?

  • Jasperblu September 5, 2011 (8:22 am)

    A Park & Ride is desperately needed in WS. Period. And all major busses in/out of WS need to go there. Including the WT shuttle.
    But since the city and county don’t give a rip about WS, we know that won’t be happening anytime soon.
    So, in lieu of that pipe dream… The WT Shuttle is of ZERO use to those of us living at the south end of WS (Fauntleroy, Arbor Heights, Westwood, etc.) and clearly of no use to people on the eastside of WS (Delridge in particular). It doesn’t run often enough to/from the locations it DOES service, the shuttles are too small, and there is little to no parking available to make it feasible to use them from those locations. Oh, and no AC on teeny little shuttles with drivers who like to sit waiting for riders in the sun, ugh! No thanks!
    The WT works for me when I can make it to Seacrest by 8am at the latest, otherwise there isn’t any parking available within safe walking distance from the dock. And by safe, I mean acceptably safe for a female who will need to walk to/from her car alone in winter darkness. Otherwise, my BF can drop me off or pick me up, but that’s a PITA for him since he works nights in North Bend & is pretty darn tired to add an additional 30+ min RT drive to the WT and back twice a day from Fauntlee Hills.
    I’m “lucky” that I work in Pioneer Square, my commute options into DT aren’t as limited as other folks. I can drive in via a few different routes, I can bus it via the #54 or the #21. I can take the Water Taxi. I can get a ride. But there are lots of folks in WS that don’t have this many options… What will it take to get the city AND the county to hear us? To pay attention? To finally get them to give a rip about thousands of people who pay taxes and contribute just as much, or more, than other areas of Seattle?
    I know, I know. Never is when.
    Parking. Did I mention parking? Yeah. We need that. And I know of a nice big gaping hole in the ground near the Junction that would work great.

  • Glenn September 5, 2011 (8:33 am)

    I’d take the under-utilized 51 bus, and run it from Hiawatha down/up California to the WT dock as an alternative to the existing shuttles. This would increase occupancy, allow for more parking off site, and extend usage to everyone who can access the primary transit corridor along California.

  • foy boy September 5, 2011 (9:21 am)

    I don’t care if it is the city, county or state. There needs to be somthing done. In the mornings the park an ride under the bridge is full and takes to long to get there because of traffic. And if we are going to take a shuttle from luna park it mine as well just go up over the brigde to town. Maybe the “county” can relocate the pier closer to where they can create parking. Get some of that stimulus money for it. I know that last part was for long term. But more parking is whats needed.

  • newnative September 5, 2011 (10:19 am)

    Water taxi shuttle needs to run later, we could use a dedicated Alki shuttle/bus. I think the time limit for pier parking is illogical.
    That’s my two cents

  • moneaux September 5, 2011 (10:40 am)

    Agree 100% with bebecat – move the water taxi to Jack Block park – lots of room for a park & ride.

  • Yardvark September 5, 2011 (11:02 am)

    We need to start using the ferry docks on Fauntleroy to really take advantage of our “marine highways” into downtown.

    Given the budget constraints everyone is facing, though, we should really mobilize all the private boats that are doing nothing but serving as holes in the water for their owners to chuck money in.

    Why can’t these boats serve as private water taxis and earn their owners a little income while helping everyone else get downtown?

    Why can’t the county facilitate that?

  • Gina September 5, 2011 (5:23 pm)


    The Ducks can be shuttles and water taxis. If they were good enough for Normandy, they’re good enough for West Seattle.

  • Neighbor September 5, 2011 (5:58 pm)

    The taxi needs to have later runs in the am!

  • Kelly September 5, 2011 (7:28 pm)

    I agree that the under-utilized 51 bus could be a great way to make the water taxi more useful for those of us in Westwood. The only way it works for me is if I ride my bike. I’ll do that less often when it’s cold/wet/dark outside. Shuttle please!

    Even with the West Seattle transit improvements (specifically the “rapid ride” 54) I really feel that High Point/north Westwood area is going to be one of the most poorly served parts of the greater neighborhood.

  • Jasperblu September 5, 2011 (9:05 pm)

    Ya know Kelly, you might have a spark of an idea there. Westwood Village (on the USPS side) sure has a lot of empty parking spaces. Why not use THAT as a park & ride? A couple regular sized Metro busses running back and forth from there to the WT is a really good idea! And then I can do some quick grocery shopping or paper goods shopping at Target after work. :)

  • metrognome September 5, 2011 (10:47 pm)

    just to put some of these parking comments into perspective … the only type of P&R that would provide enough space is a garage, as there is not enough space for a big surface-level lot. The new 5-story, 500 space Burien P&R that Sound Transit just opened cost $20.8 million.

  • ben September 6, 2011 (10:13 am)

    i live in the morgan jct area and work downtown. for me the bus currently makes a lot more sense. the only way the water taxi would be decent option is if its cost (in time and money) were more competitive with the bus.

    Water taxi
    Adult fare: $3.00 (ORCA)
    Travel time from my house: 50 minutes (minimum)

    Metro bus
    Adult fare: $2.50
    Travel time from my house: 30 minutes (average on 54E)

  • April September 6, 2011 (1:48 pm)

    I agree with the comments that the shuttle bus should run whenever the water taxi runs. Additionally, perhaps it would make the lines go faster if they were equipped with 2 handhelds instead of just one. I have been in the pass-holder line many times when the ticket/cash holder line was empty (on the downtown side.) I’m sure that other guy standing there would be happy to help the passholders if he only had the handheld device as well.

  • foy boy September 6, 2011 (3:51 pm)

    With a shuttle pick up at luna park area, would it not make more sense to just drive from there into town? I mean by the time the shuttle waits for everyone then drives all the way to alki pier and you wait for the WT, you would already be in town.

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