(Photo courtesy King County Ferry Board chair Joe McDermott’s office)
One week ago, we reported on the King County Ferry Board’s Executive Committee agreeing to accept the Spirit of Kingston and the recommendation that it take over the West Seattle Water Taxi run once it arrives. This afternoon, the county announced the Ferry Board has finalized the deal, and the move should happen when 7-day-a-week service resumes in a few weeks:
The Spirit of Kingston, the 65-foot catamaran that once ferried passengers between Kingston and Seattle, is about to become part of the King County Ferry District’s fleet of water taxis. The District unanimously voted today to acquire the eight year-old vessel at no purchase cost through an agreement with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) – the agency that originally provided grant funding to the Port of Kingston to purchase the vessel.
“This is an exciting day for transit in our region. The Spirit of Kingston will help increase reliability of our water taxi service and help to ensure that riders can get where they’re going as planned. The Spirit of Kingston will address many of the service disruptions we experience,” said Joe McDermott, Chair of the King County Ferry District.
The Port of Kingston discontinued ferry service last fall. The decision to cease operations provided the King County Ferry District with the opportunity to acquire the vessel due to the FTA’s previous $2 million investment.
The Spirit of Kingston is expected to start sailing with the summer season in early April 2013. The vessel can carry up to 147 passengers and will replace the Rachel Marie, a leased vessel which currently provides service between West Seattle and downtown Seattle. The Rachel Marie will then serve as a back-up when the other vessels are out of service for maintenance or repairs.
In addition to improved service reliability, the acquisition will help the district reduce operational costs. The district estimates it will save more than $425,000 on lease and rental expenses over the next five years.
“The acquisition of The Spirit of Kingston will not only provide increased reliability for the riders of the water taxi, but it will also save money for the Ferry District. We now have a backup vessel which will cut down on our need to rent boats when one of our other boats needs maintenance or repair,” said King County Ferry District Vice-Chair Larry Gossett.
Next step for the Ferry District, as also reported in our update last week, is to seek bids to build two new boats for the West Seattle and Vashon water-taxi runs.