Latest numbers in from County Councilmember Dow Constantine‘s office – the Elliott Bay Water Taxi is still headed for a recordbreaking season, up 9 percent overall this summer, though last month’s ridership was a bit down from same time last year (remember the Water Taxi crowds because of Freeway Fright ’07?). Here’s the official announcement: Click to read the rest of Water Taxi up for summer, down for August (but with a caveat)…
Just posted on the High Point Neighborhood Association website – a call from the HP Green Living Committee for High Point residents who work downtown to commute together via the Elliott Bay Water Taxi next Wednesday, and maybe weekly after that if it works out. (The EBWT season continues through 10/31.) To get in on this, start here.
If you go to Seacrest, you might see some yellow tape cordoning off the end of the fishing pier, after the Elliott Bay Water Taxi hit it this morning. Argosy Cruises, which operates the Water Taxi boat Sightseer, confirms a “minor incident” at Seacrest; we checked with Argosy after getting this first-person account from Sofia:
I was waiting on the lower dock to ride the 7:30 am water taxi to work this morning. As the Elliott Bay Taxi pulled in you could see a worried look on the boat’s captain. As she got closer she shouted Oh No and we could tell the boat was coming in too fast. I held on to the rail to brace myself as the taxi came in and hit the upper fishing dock and knocked out the South West Corner Piling (the one closest to the lower loading dock for the taxi). The post was knocked away from the dock and the whole dock shook, the boat then proceeded to go underneath the dock and then finally stopping. There was a small amount of damage to the boat, the overhang over the upstairs windows was bent slightly. The fisherman on the dock were shook up, then they proceeded to joke and pretend that their legs were cut off, but I am sure the ship’s captain was not finding it funny. I felt really bad for her, you can tell she was very scared during this. She then calmly and professionally loaded the boat, called someone (I am guessing argosy headquarters) and then had one of the boat’s mates tape up the corner of the dock so no one stands on that edge. I did not get a photo, but thought people might want to know what happened. It was quite a way to wake up on a groggy morning commute!
Argosy confirms it has staffers out at the dock but spokesperson Maureen Black stresses that the Water Taxi’s schedule IS NOT affected by this. We went out to the scene and indeed saw people in a small boat looking at the piling — here’s video:
A little more than halfway through this year’s Elliott Bay Water Taxi season, we just got word from King County Councilmember Dow Constantine‘s office that ridership numbers for July were once again up double digits from the same month a year earlier – here’s the full news release: Click to read the rest of New Water Taxi numbers: Another mega-month…
The Elliott Bay Water Taxi schedules are still anchored to the Metro website, but you can now read all about the new-ish parent agency of the Water Taxi and the Seattle-Vashon passenger ferry – and in the future, maybe more foot ferries — on the new King County Ferry District website.
That’s Irene Stewart, West Seattle’s former Seattle School Board rep, and Fauntleroy Community Association president Bruce Butterfield. They got engaged recently on the Elliott Bay Water Taxi. We heard the story at the last FCA meeting but thought it was off the record … till the photo above, and a King County news release about it, just landed in the WSB inbox!
On a boat normally frequented by commuters and Mariners fans, West Seattle residents Irene Stewart and Bruce Butterfield found an entirely different use for the Elliott Bay Water Taxi: They got engaged.
On June 25, Stewart and Butterfield were celebrating their tenth anniversary of dating. Ten years earlier, they had taken the Water Taxi downtown for their first date, and they decided this year to do the same in celebration.
“We took the Water Taxi to make it easy on ourselves – nothing fancy, just a fun ride to a restaurant downtown,” said Stewart, who as an aide to then King County Councilmember Greg Nickels was instrumental in getting the service started.
Stewart said everything seemed normal until the vessel approached Pier 55 on the downtown waterfront. All of a sudden, the captain veered to the left and turned the boat around so it faced West Seattle. Everyone onboard was quite confused.
Almost everyone, that is.
For Butterfield, this was all part of the plan. Earlier in the day, he made several trips to Seacrest Park to speak with the captain and crew, and enlist their support.
With the city skyline in the background (hence the turning of the ship) and two crewmembers filming, a packed deck watched with surprise as Butterfield knelt down on one knee and asked Stewart to marry him.
Everyone cheered. But Butterfield shushed them. “She hasn’t said ‘yes’ yet,” he said, but Stewart quickly agreed. There was more cheering downtown as the Water Taxi docked and the newly engaged couple continued on their journey – in more ways than one.
Stewart is currently director of the Seattle Mayor’s Office for Senior Citizens, and was a member of the Seattle School Board from 2003 to 2007. Butterfield is a Realtor with Prudential Northwest Realty at Jefferson Square and president of the Fauntleroy Community Association. No date has been set, but the two anticipate a summer 2009 wedding.
Congratulations to Irene and Bruce! P.S. Speaking of the Water Taxi, WSB has just become a proud sponsor of West Seattle’s own foot ferry … we took a picture of our new banner yesterday while heading downtown: Click to read the rest of Water Taxi: More romantic than a Venice gondola?…
Just in from the office of West Seattle’s King County Councilmember Dow Constantine – Elliott Bay Water Taxi ridership for June has been tallied and it’s 14 percent higher than last year, following a double-digit increase for the preceding month — news release with full details, ahead: Click to read the rest of Water Taxi update: June ridership sails past last year’s levels…
Thanks to JayDee for sending that view of a state ferry and cruise ship on Elliott Bay, photographed from the 4:40 pm Water Taxi run. A few hours later, we captured this view from High Point Pond:
Good birdwatching at the pond – besides the two Canada geese on the pond in the photo, down by the water’s edge we saw two baby ducks and their mom (photo didn’t come out, unfortunately) and abundant barn swallows.
Thanks to Alki resident Marge Carpenter for sending photos — she and husband Larry were on the same Water Taxi run from downtown yesterday afternoon, but we didn’t see them till after getting on the boat, and didn’t know they’d caught the otters (mentioned here last night) on cam. Sorry we don’t have zoom processing; they were indeed that different in size, maybe parent and child?
Thanks to Dave Gould for that photo of the last sunset before summer arrives. Solstice is 4:59 pm our time tomorrow. Next photo is more about what you don’t see than what you do see:
That’s the view from the railing to the south of the ramp going down to the Elliott Bay Water Taxi dock downtown, if you didn’t recognize it. The small wooden float at the center with the upside-down boat had two visitors this afternoon while we were waiting to catch the WT home from our City Hall visit — they were gone before we could pull out the cameraphone, but we wanted to mention them: two otters! (Just in case you were still feeling sad about the one killed over here last weekend, looks like they have friends/relatives in the bay; hope the two we saw don’t try crossing Alaskan Way …)
As promised the other night, when King County Councilmember Dow Constantine told the Southwest District Council that the Elliott Bay Water Taxi’s ridership was up 17 percent over last year (as of mid-May), we now have the complete May report, and it has other interesting details — read on: Click to read the rest of First full ’08 month for Water Taxi a biggie…
From tonight’s monthly meeting of the Southwest District Council, which includes representatives of neighborhood associations and other major organizations in the area of West Seattle that the city considers the “Southwest District” (map of all “districts” here):
HELP CLEAN UP A MAJOR GATEWAY TO WEST SEATTLE: It’s been discussed here before, and now the date is set: The volunteer cleanup from 35th/Fauntleroy to “Walking on Logs” is set for Sept. 13, as announced at tonight’s meeting by Nancy Driver. Mark your calendar!
WATER TAXI RIDERSHIP UP: King County Councilmember Dow Constantine attended tonight’s meeting and provided a quick preview of recent ridership stats — Elliott Bay Water Taxi operation: Through the middle of May, readership is up 17 percent over last year. (We’re expecting the full May stats soon.) Two factors are considered to be in play — higher gas prices and higher Water Taxi awareness.
RAPIDRIDE REACTION: With the latest news about West Seattle RapidRide (WSB coverage here), Constantine got an earful of concerns about the latest details on the forthcoming bus service. He promised to report the concerns to Metro leadership and his colleagues.
VIADUCT MEETING: The Southwest and Delridge District Councils plan to discuss the latest on The Viaduct at their next joint meeting, coming up in September.
JAIL-SITES FIGHT: Monday night’s Highland Park meeting on the jail sites (WSB coverage here) was summarized, and new Highland Park Action Committee chair Dorsol Plants spoke to the SWDC and asked the council to write a letter expressing concern about the two proposed West Seattle sites; council reps agreed to do that and are consulting their respective organizations. Councilmember Constantine said that tomorrow is when he plans to introduce the proposal he mentioned at Monday night’s Highland Park meeting — proposing that the county extend its agreement to house cities’ misdemeanor offenders till a regional solution can be found, rather than having Seattle and other cities each pursue their own potential new jail sites. He says the county council’s Committee of the Whole, which he chairs, will get the proposal on Monday, with a hearing and action scheduled later. (If you missed it earlier, this morning the city announced dates for its public meetings on the jail sites – details here.)
Yes, there was even clowning around at the Elliott Bay Water Taxi’s opening-day celebration at Seacrest earlier this afternoon – there you see the guest clown creating not a balloon animal, but a balloon flower, in about 20 seconds. We showed you the Water Taxi’s first arrival earlier this morning; ahead, more of this afternoon’s festivities, including the crowd, the shuttle, the band, the speech (and remember, rides are free all day long): Click to read the rest of Scenes from the Water Taxi opening-day celebration…
We got that photo from Seacrest less than an hour ago as the Elliott Bay Water Taxi headed over from Pier 55 on its first official run of the season. Upon arrival, a loudspeaker announcement from the crew thanked their inaugural group of passengers — five in all (you can hear the announcement in this clip:
As mentioned earlier, the kickoff ceremony, emceed by West Seattle’s King County Councilmember Dow Constantine and featuring music by West Seattle’s Bronwyn Edwards Cryer, is happening noon-2 pm. Water Taxi rides are free all day (here’s the schedule), and remember the free shuttle is now back in business too (here’s its schedule) – taking it will be a really good idea today, given the limited parking at and around Seacrest. The Water Taxi’s season is set to continue all the way through Halloween this year, with the full 7-day schedule all the way till the end.
Check the West Seattle Weekend Lineup for more local events today; here are 3 highlights:
FIRST DAY FOR THE ELLIOTT BAY WATER TAXI: The big celebration is noon-2 pm; rides are free all day; the first sighting of the Water Taxi at Seacrest should be around 8:40, going by the Sunday schedule.
FIRST-EVER “PET FEST” IN THE JUNCTION: 10 am-4 pm in the Wells Fargo parking lot, NE corner of 44th/Alaska. More info here, more on the newly added “Most Beautiful Pet” contest at noon (we’ll be showcasing the winner!) on the Next to Nature site here (or in this previous WSB post).
WEST SEATTLE FARMERS’ MARKET: As always, we bring you the weekly “fresh sheet” for what you’ll find on the SE corner of 44th/Alaska, 10 am-2 pm – plus word of some special events (and a giveaway) today: Click to read the rest of Happening today: Water Taxi, Pet Fest, Farmers’ Market ……
Thanks to marketing director Maureen Black at Argosy Cruises for answering our inquiries about when we might catch the Sightseer — aka the Elliott Bay Water Taxi, now operated by the new King County Ferry District — in action prior to its season debut this Sunday; as a result, we caught the crew in action doing touch-and-go practice at Seacrest this afternoon. Here’s a longer clip from our visit to Seacrest:
Rides are free all day Sunday; the EBWT will start running that morning (8:30 am from downtown), but the real fun at the dock will be the official launch-day festivities noon-2 pm, with West Seattle’s King County Councilmember Dow Constantine emceeing (he can be a lively host, as evidenced at the 34th Legislative District Caucus earlier this month) and Argosy CEO Kevin Clark also scheduled to appear.
We asked the staff of West Seattle’s King County Councilmember Dow Constantine for some info-bits to add to our Elliott Bay Water Taxi countdown, and here’s one for starters — Take a close look at this year’s schedule; the “maintenance break” gap at midmorning is gone; King County staff worked with Argosy to shorten the time needed, so there’s now a 9:30 boat from Seacrest and a 10:30 boat from Pier 55. (The Water Taxi starts its season on Sunday; rides are free all day and there’s a celebration from noon-2 pm.)
One more event we’re counting down to – opening day for the Elliott Bay Water Taxi a week from tomorrow. (Full schedule here, including details on the opening-day festivities.) Rides are free all day that day, but for subsequent trips, there’s a coupon for a freebie on a postcard from West Seattle’s King County Councilmember Dow Constantine that’s landing in (postal) mailboxes now (we just got ours).
Thanks to Jeremy for the tip – since our last check of the King County website late last night, the Elliott Bay Water Taxi‘s full operating schedule has been posted online. Direct links to the schedule tables: Weekdays; weekends. (As first reported last month, the Water Taxi starts running April 27; the full schedule continues through Oct. 31.)
Two weeks after we brought you the announcement that April 27 is Opening Day for the Elliott Bay Water Taxi season … the county has just released more details about the kickoff event and the season, including how long it will last. 6:55 PM UPDATE: One more key detail – County West Seattle County Councilmember Dow Constantine‘s team points out that the EBWT will remain on a full schedule all the way through the end of the season, unlike last year when it cut back to commute-runs-only in the final weeks. Now, here’s the full text of the King County news release made public this afternoon: Click to read the rest of More details about Elliott Bay Water Taxi ’08…
Just in from the office of King County Councilmember Dow Constantine:
Service on the Elliott Bay Water Taxi is set to resume Sunday, April 27 as the West Seattle-to-downtown passenger ferry begins its summer season.
Last year was the busiest ever for the Water Taxi, as total ridership increased by 32 percent over the foot ferryâ€™s record 2006 numbers. A total of 161,331 riders took the taxi last summer, as compared with 122,650 in 2006. The extra revenues generated by this record ridership allowed King County to extend commute hour service through late October.
â€œIn the past decade, the Water Taxi has become a treasured community asset, as both a viable commuter option and an enjoyable â€œshortcutâ€ that takes West Seattle visitors out of traffic and on to Puget Sound,â€ said Metropolitan King County Councilmember Dow Constantine. â€œThe newly established King County Ferry District will finally provide a stable funding source for this vital service. In the coming years, we will be improving the boats, sailing times, and dock facilitiesâ€
A kickoff event is planned for April 27. Event details and Water Taxi schedules will be announced shortly.
As mentioned yesterday, some interesting nuggets emerged from the transportation presentations at the monthly West Seattle Chamber of Commerce lunch: On the RapidRide bus route that will replace the 54 in three years, a Metro rep acknowledged opposition to possible re-routing along California through The Junction, saying the agency’s heard “loud and clear” from the “strong fan base” for the current routing. (One more meeting about RapidRide is coming up – next Tuesday night, Southwest Library.) City transportation director Grace Crunican suggested we haven’t heard enough about the major improvements coming to the Spokane Street Viaduct section of the bridge – which she describes as the city’s #1 priority – particularly the eastbound exit to be added at 4th (no westbound onramp at 4th though, and the long-closed one will finally go away). And while recapping the latest developments with the Elliott Bay Water Taxi – particularly the creation of the county Ferry District — West Seattle’s King County Councilmember Dow Constantine noted this year’s schedule should be announced relatively soon.
Heard back from KC Councilmember Dow Constantine‘s staff on our question about the KCFD plan approved this morning: No significant changes from the original plan posted on the county website. The levy rate to pay for Ferry District operations — including the Elliott Bay Water Taxi, the Seattle-Vashon passenger ferry that the state has to give up, and “demonstration routes” on other county waterways — will be 5.5 cents per $1000 of property value — $22/year ($1.83/month) if your home is worth $400,000. The assessment will start in January. As for Water Taxi operations — Argosy will continue to operate the service next year, for a season that might start slightly earlier and end slightly later than this year, and in summer of 2009; if dock improvements at Seacrest are ready by fall 2009, that’s when “in-house operations” would begin and the Water Taxi would go year-round — if dock improvements aren’t done by then, they say, that work would happen in winter ’09-’10 (it can’t happen any other time of the year) and year-round operations would start no later than spring 2010.
8-1 in favor (King County Councilmembers sitting as King County Ferry District), only no vote was Reagan Dunn. Missed part of the discussion so checking to see what changes if any were included in the approved plan, which is FD2007-06.1, with Title Amendment T. Lots of happy talk about transportation in King County now going “back to the future,” with a modern-day version of the fabled Mosquito Fleet. West Seattle’s Councilmember Dow Constantine talked about how the Mosquito Fleet was swept away by the automobile, but now, “those automobiles are sitting in gridlock and we don’t have a lot of choices about how to get from place to place” — this is a step toward more options; it includes demonstration routes elsewhere on Puget Sound and Lake Washington, in addition to the Elliott Bay Water Taxi and county operation of the Vashon-Seattle passenger ferry that the state has to give up. More details in a bit.
You can watch/listen in online (or on cable) on King County TV. (The levy to pay for Elliott Bay Water Taxi operations and other passenger-ferry routes is the main topic of discussion right now.)
The full set of documents about what is being proposed for King County Ferry District operations, including service levels and a tax levy, is now available. Some discussion erupted overnight in the comments on our Thursday afternoon post, including a detailed response from Chris Arkills on KC Councilmember Dow Constantine‘s staff. Here is everything available that you can read about the new Ferry District plan now — the “briefing paper” is the biggie:
-Overview “transmittal letter” from King County Executive
-32-page briefing paper on the full scope of the county’s passenger-ferry proposals
-Proposed sailing schedule for next year’s Water Taxi (and Vashon-Seattle foot ferry)
The King County Ferry District board (KC Council) vote on this is now set for 9 am next Tuesday; if you have comments on the specifics, the online testimony link is still up.
We monitored some of this afternoon’s King County Ferry District hearing on the water taxi and other proposed foot-ferry operations. The district board members, aka King County Council members, had just received the proposed operations plan/budget (which we are awaiting to pass on to you) — they have a lot of decisions to make, and the next meeting is Tuesday morning. One thing we were glad to hear — toward the end of the meeting, West Seattle’s KC Councilmember Dow Constantine talked about the excellent in-person turnout (we saw some known WSB readers at the podium!) and also the fact more than 50 people submitted “online testimony” — for which the specific link was created after a WSB reader asked about it. Way to go for public participation, and stand by for more details on the decisions to be made and how it will affect you, both in terms of transportation and taxation. 4:15 PM UPDATE: Here are those details, contained for starters in the County Executive’s “transmittal letter” (read the full text here) — we’re still reading through it ourselves, but one topline is the proposed funding plan (quoting from the document now): “a property tax levy of 5.5 cents per $1,000 of assessed value over ten years.”
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