West Seattle Water Taxi: Reminder about March fare increase

January 25, 2012 at 2:33 pm | In King County Water Taxi, West Seattle news | 11 Comments

(WSB photo from Seacrest, October 2011)
The West Seattle Water Taxi is coming off a big year – ridership numbers published online show its usage up 40 percent last year, compared to 2009, and it wasn’t all the extra “Viadoom” ridership in October – the ridership in December was more than triple that of a year earlier. Some big things are ahead for the King County Ferry District, which manages the run – including new vessels and a new administrator. and, as we first reported last month, a fare increase this spring. Today, the county has just sent out a reminder about the increase:

King County Water Taxi fares will be going up on March 1. The adult and youth fare for one-way trips on the West Seattle and Vashon routes will increase by 50 cents. Passengers with reduced fare permits will pay an additional 25 cents per ride.

This is the first fare increase since the King County Ferry District began operating the Water Taxi service nearly three years ago.

“The additional revenue generated from this increase, along with growing ridership and our continuing efforts to contain costs, will be important factors in helping us sustain this service in the long-term,” King County Ferry District Chair Joe McDermott said.

Both the Vashon Island and West Seattle routes provide year-round, weekday commute service. During the peak season, April through October, service on the West Seattle route expands to seven days a week, including extended hours on weekends and selected nights.

The fare increase is expected to generate in excess of $150,000 annually. This revenue will help offset operating costs and contribute to the King County Water Taxi’s overall financial stability.

Over the past year, ridership has hit record highs. The Rachel Marie, operating between West Seattle and downtown, has seen a 40 percent jump in annual ridership when compared to 2010.The Melissa Ann operates at near capacity between Vashon and downtown Seattle.

As a result of passenger demand, work has begun with the U.S. Coast Guard to raise capacity on both vessels from 150 to 172 passengers by early summer.

Efforts are also underway to replace the District’s aging fleet of leased vessels and improve passenger staging areas.

The new boats will be funded mostly by federal grants, as we reported last month. Meantime, the county says it’s getting closer to hiring a district administrator.

11 Comments

  1. I’ve been pretty shocked at the increase in usage for the middle of the winter at rush hour. It’s been great to see.

    I’m a little curious that the same fare hike is planned for West Seattle, which is a much shorter run than Vashon. I’m curious if operating costs are that similar between the two.

    Thanks for the reminder though!

    Comment by Gene — 2:44 pm January 25, 2012 #

  2. I’ve been keeping my fingers crossed for year-round service for the West Seattle Water Taxi AND the shuttle #’s 773 & 775 on weekends.

    Comment by W — 4:08 pm January 25, 2012 #

  3. How are they calling this the first fare increase in three years? Making the fare one-way and not round-trip doubled the fare. $7 round-trip is expensive already.

    Comment by newnative — 5:13 pm January 25, 2012 #

  4. Here’s hoping we can keep it alive. Getting those shuttle’s to Morgan junction during commute times (rather than just in the middle of the day) would go a long way toward tipping the scales in the Water Taxi’s favor for commuting. Otherwise, it’s difficult to justify taking a bus to the shuttle to the Water Taxi when I’m already on the bus . . .

    Comment by Steve M — 5:42 pm January 25, 2012 #

  5. When will the water taxi start its ALL DAY & Weekend service again? It must be coming up here soon in March or April?

    Comment by Noelle — 6:05 pm January 25, 2012 #

  6. I would ask the same question as Gene…will we be paying the same increase as for Vashon as it’s a much shorter run…the staff obviously work harder as they’re running up/down, docking, etc. every ten minutes so maybe it increases the overall cost? Also, wondering if they will put up guard rails. I slipped and fell recently at the turn…there is a metal plate at that point in the walkway and it gets slippery…I’d hate for someone to fall in the water (a definite possibility on windy days when the dock is rocking). Overall, love the water taxi and the guys (staff) are wonderful!

    Comment by LK Clark — 6:54 pm January 25, 2012 #

  7. Does West Seattle have a machine that adds value to Orca Cards? The closest one I have found is at the King St. Station.

    Comment by Gina — 7:19 pm January 25, 2012 #

  8. I wish it was still run by Metro. The price is already too high. I can’t believe the prices are going up.

    Comment by a — 7:39 pm January 25, 2012 #

  9. And so the fares after the increase will be????

    Comment by Look4wrd — 10:37 pm January 25, 2012 #

  10. Gina, looks like the machines are only available at Stations/Transit Centers.

    .

    However, both WS QFC’s are reload in person locations, as is the Jefferson Square, but not Admiral ($#@#&!!) Safeway.

    .

    And, sadly, the only Seattle location of our beloved Bartell’s that offers the service, is the one on 3rd, between Union/Pike, and not the one at 4th & Madison. ($#@#&!!)

    ,

    Mike

    Comment by miws — 11:39 am January 26, 2012 #

  11. Haven’t been on the water taxi in a while — what is the new fare?

    Comment by gt — 12:20 am January 27, 2012 #

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