West Seattle Water Taxi ridership skyrockets: Not just ‘Viadoom’

December 20, 2011 at 3:10 pm | In King County Water Taxi, Transportation, West Seattle news | 10 Comments

(WSB photo from October 24, taken at Seacrest Pier)
We were asked recently about West Seattle Water Taxi ridership since the week-plus Alaskan Way Viaduct closure. Found the answer hiding in plain sight on the Water Taxi website. Even after the late-October closure, ridership ran way above last year, according to this month-by-month chart, which reports 9,734 rides last month – close to quadruple the 2,578 rides in November of last year. According to both the King County Ferry District‘s online budget documents and discussions we’ve had with the staff of County Councilmember Joe McDermott (who chairs the Ferry District’s Board, another set of hats the council wears), the 2012 plan for the Water Taxi includes a 50-cent fare increase in the spring as well as ongoing planning for new vessels to take the place of the leased boats that have been in use on the WS and Vashon routes. (Most of the cost of those boats will be borne by grants from the federal government.) One more note: No Water Taxi service on the two upcoming “official holiday” Mondays, December 26 and January 2.

10 Comments

  1. woohoo! this is great news! the water taxi is one of the best parts of living in WS! may it long continue to be a part of our community :)

    Comment by WS girl — 3:45 pm December 20, 2011 #

  2. considering that my property taxes are paying for this, I wonder what the operating cost per trip is and how much fares pay (i.e Operating Revenue / Operating Expense), esp. compared to bus service. In 2010, Metro’s operating cost per bus boarding (includes non-Sound Transit transit, commuter vans and paratransit) was $4.03 and the operating revenue (i.e. fares) was $1.13 for an OR/OE of 28%. For transit only, it was 27.8%
    http://metro.kingcounty.gov/am/reports/2010/2010_Annual_Management_Report.pdf

    Comment by metrognome — 4:19 pm December 20, 2011 #

  3. It’s so civilized I almost feel guilty.

    Comment by dbsea — 4:21 pm December 20, 2011 #

  4. Gorgeous water taxi photograph!

    Comment by cjboffoli — 5:22 pm December 20, 2011 #

  5. Increased ridership is really great to see. I support the eventual return of the Mosquito Fleet in whatever configuration it takes to get polluting, gas guzzling cars off our crowded roads. I have hope that those who love Puget Sound, Eastside or Westside, will inform themselves about transportation waterways in other metropolitan areas. Waterways should be moving far more people than they do. Hopefully, voters will understand that these lame boats currently being used are NOT the long term solution for the thriving, efficient water transportation system being pursued by the County. Hope those new boats come on line sooner rather than later. AND, I hope private/public partnerships are vigorously courted soon. There is a whole maritime industry awaiting its inclusion into our local green economy, bringing jobs and reducing carbon footprints of thousands. If people are not familiar with how such a water taxi/hyrofoil/ ferry system might look dispersed across Seattle as well around our lakes and along the Sound, google
    Vancouver, B.C., New York City and Chicago. We are way behind the curve on this –
    statewide. And that makes absolutely no good green sense locally. Washington has the largest ferry system in the country. I find that so embarassing. I know this transportation initiative can work if stakeholders and investors and manufacturers start talking. Let the private sector do its thing too!!!!

    Comment by westseattledood — 5:59 pm December 20, 2011 #

  6. Seattle should be following the example of Istanbul, which has had an extensive ferry bus system for more than a hundred years, with dozens of ferry boats running daily, carrying 61 million people per year. While our city’s population size doesn’t require such an extensive system, we could (and should!) utilize our waterways for transportation, instead of complaining about how they are a barrier to motorized vehicle transit. Boats/ferries are the most efficient way to transport large amounts of goods, people, etc. and are much more environmentally and economically friendly than our ruinous system of cars and buses.

    Comment by JN — 7:50 pm December 20, 2011 #

  7. Lived in Chicago for decades, can’t recall an instance where boats were used for public commuting. If anything, they’re pleasure options for tourists. With Metra, the El, and the restriction of waterways that make commuting plausible in regards to geographics, I am missing where watercraft comes in.

    Comment by CandrewB — 8:12 pm December 20, 2011 #

  8. My impression was Chicago has had boats present on the river for awhile; so even though they might be used for tourism and smaller #’s of people, they are carrying people on urban waterways (rather than in land cabs) promoting the waterway ecosystems as potential transportation networks. Some folks envision a very similar scenario for taxis on Elliott Bay
    which someday will take passengers down a
    clean Duwamish. For folks downtown and in West Seattle, that could be of note.

    Proximally, it is Vancouver, BC which has the whole waterway network ->- land transportation points of intersection brilliantly coordinated. To my eye, it seems their system is functional,
    dynamic and elegant. I think their water transport system is part of why Vancouver is often rated the most livable cosmopolitan city in the world. It is balanced, diverse and supernatural – all at once! Seattle, King County (and the State) might think about emulating that- sooner rather than later, imho.

    Comment by westseattledood — 9:59 pm December 20, 2011 #

  9. They want to raise the price?? We already stopped taking it bc it costs too much already. I much preferred it when it was run by Metro.

    Comment by A — 9:16 am December 21, 2011 #

  10. I love riding the water taxi to/from work and for the occasional evening downtown. The boats always run on time and unlike the bus I’m never left waiting in the cold and rain for 20 minutes. Add to that a friendly crew, great scenery, and more personal space than the typical bus ride and I can’t imagine commuting any other way.

    Comment by Speedy — 9:37 am December 21, 2011 #

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