Water Taxi fares rise on March 1st: Here’s what you’ll pay starting then

(WSB photo, July 2017)

A reminder from the King County Department of Transportation today – Water Taxi fares are going up March 1st. From the announcement:

For adults paying with ORCA, the one-way fare will be $5 per rider on the West Seattle route and $5.75 per rider on the Vashon Island route.

Adults paying with cash will pay $5.75 for West Seattle and $6.75 for Vashon Island.

Seniors and riders with disabilities will pay $2.50 for West Seattle and $3 for Vashon Island, a 25-cent increase over current fares.

Youth ORCA users and ORCA LIFT riders will now pay $3.75 a ride for West Seattle (25 cents more per ride) and $4.50 (50 cents more per ride) for Vashon Island. Children 5 years old and under can still ride the Water Taxi for free. To view all fare changes scheduled for March 1, visit our website and choose a route.

The fare policy was established when the Water Taxi operated under the King County Ferry District and was then adopted by King County. Fare increases have taken place every two years since 2012. Fare revenue helps King County meet fare box recovery targets and keep pace with rising costs to deliver safe, reliable and efficient Water Taxi service.

The King County Water Taxi continues to grow in popularity, providing riders with a congestion-free commute into downtown Seattle. In 2017, the Water Taxi carried nearly 600,000 riders combined on the West Seattle and Vashon Island routes. These two routes combined for more than 13,300 annual trip segments with over a 99-percent reliability rating.

Two more Water Taxi notes: The 5-day-a-week winter schedule runs through the end of March; and as noted in our morning commute coverage, remember that the Water Taxi will not be in service next Monday (Presidents Day).

ADDED 2:54 PM: We confirmed with KCDOT’s Brent Champaco that the spring/summer Water Taxi schedule really is starting on a Thursday (March 29th), different from years past. He explains that the date was chosen because it’s the Mariners’ home opener.

25 Replies to "Water Taxi fares rise on March 1st: Here's what you'll pay starting then"

  • rico February 14, 2018 (2:53 pm)

    $11.50 roundtrip to downtown,  not sure that is any less expensive than downtown parking.

    • WSB February 14, 2018 (3:03 pm)

      Depends on how long you’re parking and where! Ever used the lot kitty corner from the west-facing side of City Hall? A few hours there can be equal to getting a party of four across the water and back.

      • sam-c February 14, 2018 (3:20 pm)

        Wow! really? We’ve never paid $ 46 to park downtown. Yikes, that is expensive.

    • Alex February 14, 2018 (3:05 pm)

      Additionally, the number of riders and trips they posted indicate an average of 45 riders per trip. Considering the incredible amount of diesel these boats burn, I’d say it’s not exactly a green method of travel either. 

      The water taxi is still a useful alternative to sitting in traffic for some, but that’s only true because our traffic/transit system is so woefully bad in the first place. 

        • Alex February 14, 2018 (3:49 pm)

          No offense, but that article provided no actual information on the amount of pollution emitted or fuel used, it only implied it is less, and cited the use of biofuel. It did specify they use a blend of 10% biodiesel, so that means we can take comfort in using 10% less petroleum…

          That doesn’t change the fact that the Doc Maynard is a massive diesel powered boat. (I couldn’t find any real fuel usage data online).  Even if it is relatively efficient for a boat, boats don’t tend to compete well with buses in terms of either efficiency or cost (much of which is fuel) —thus the increased price. 

          Bottom line, the reason the water taxi costs so much is largely because it uses so much gas.

          • Nick February 14, 2018 (4:39 pm)

            Much information about ridership/fuel consumption I’d imagine is available if you email watertaxi.info@kingcounty.gov because this is a public entity most of that information should be readily accessible. The ratio of riders to the amount of fuel used on a weekly basis is much more surprising than one would think. During the winter time having approximately 700 Riders daily equals to approximately 3500 per week, and I would imagine that the fuel usage is between 1100 and 1200 gallons per week. That equals out to be a third of a gallon per passenger per week. Some other information that you might find useful is the on-time performance rating and the service reliability ratings that both the Vashon and the West Seattle Water Taxi have. When you look at bus service look at the ratings that they have, that is why this is just another option to get downtown.

  • justme February 14, 2018 (3:23 pm)

    Holy cow, too expensive for me.

  • Diane February 14, 2018 (4:25 pm)

    yes, water taxi rates have been WAY too expensive for me for several years; thankfully now a senior, so it’s “only” $5 RT; now I might do the WT once a year

  • mc February 14, 2018 (6:49 pm)

    The water taxi was already expensive and now this? I know they claim an increased ridership but I’m not seeing the numbers and I’ve been using it at prime time, so I’m betting these numbers include tourist traffic from the summer when riders take it as an attraction, not a commuting option.  At this rate it won’t be an option for many commuters either. It’s just shameful that a world-class city lacks a real vision and leadership for a public transportation system that really serves our communities. 

  • chemist February 14, 2018 (8:04 pm)

    The cash vs ORCA single-trip fare difference is something I wish our peak-hour KC Metro buses would have.

    • CAM February 15, 2018 (8:42 am)

      Something like that would disproportionately impact homeless and the lowest income group. Is there a reason you would support that?

  • supernova72@yahoo.com February 14, 2018 (8:34 pm)

    Uber X ride share would be a good option but maybe not faster.  Still glad so see it as a viable option.  Cheers.

  • Kathy February 14, 2018 (8:41 pm)

    Does your fare paid by ORCA also cover the return trip if you return within 2 hours? I suspect this must be true because I used the Water Taxi to go downtown to an appointment and was able to return within 2 hours via the Rapid Ride  C bus showing a valid transfer (no charge) when I swiped my ORCA.

    • What? February 14, 2018 (9:33 pm)

      Bus transfers DO NOT work on water taxi. I know the staff and this has happened many a time. No. Don’t even try.

      • junctioneer February 15, 2018 (7:41 am)

        Pretty sure the powerpoint presentation on the boats says you can transfer from the water taxi to metro. However, as the above person mentioned it may not work the other way around.

  • Dcn February 14, 2018 (8:50 pm)

    I don’t commute downtown, but for entertainment or events downtown, I’d much rather pay and ride the water taxi than drive. Driving downtown has become a gridlock nightmare. The water taxi is definitely the most scenic  way to get downtown too. 

  • WSEA February 15, 2018 (9:00 am)

    I loved the water taxi when my work was paying for it but thats long gone now.  I do think the water taxi has a place but I would love to see more options for family pricing for games or events.  Its a lot cheaper to drive into the city than pay for a family of four.  

    I think they need to get creative for off commute hour ridership, who are also non-tourist.   

  • Craig February 15, 2018 (1:27 pm)

    Improved parking needs to be part of the plan on the WS side, especially with the increasing cost of using the service (assuming future fare increases). The walk to get to the dock is becoming longer and longer with the reduced parking spaces due to construction and the ridership volume. There’ll be a negative tipping point due to low park/ride convenience and general affordability vs bus vs parking downtown or Uber soon if they’re not careful. I’d suggest keeping the fares as low as possible to get ridership, and with it more bargaining power for subsidies or other gov based transportation assistance. 

    • SeaSpade February 15, 2018 (4:12 pm)

      Amen – have always wondered why – if this is to reduce congestion – why a lot or garage wasn’t nearby.  I think more commuters would use the WT.  It would also cut down on the bogus parking tickets on Ferry….

      • WSB February 15, 2018 (4:27 pm)

        Long history on that.

  • newnative February 15, 2018 (4:29 pm)

    Kathy is talking about Orca card transfers, not paper transfers. It works like the light rail, you can transfer from the train/boat to the bus but not the other way around.

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