West Seattle, Washington
5:45 PM: No specifics have been announced for security concerns, but the Saudi Crown Prince is in the area this afternoon and Seattle Police say downtown traffic is about to be affected – temporary shutdowns for a motorcade route. So if you are, or have to go through, downtown, you might want to wait a bit. He arrived in Everett this afternoon after flying from New York.
6:35 PM: We don’t know if this is related, but we just got an alert that West Seattle Water Taxi runs are canceled between now and 7:30 pm, when service will resume with the run from Pier 52 downtown.
We just happened to be close enough to Seacrest to get that photo of the West Seattle Water Taxi arriving, shortly after King County sent out this reminder about the seasonal schedule change kicking in a week from Thursday (March 29th), as we first mentioned last month:
The new schedule includes sailings seven days a week between West Seattle and Pier 52 in downtown Seattle. The Water Taxi will also offer evening sailings on Fridays, Saturdays, and during Seattle Mariners, Sounders, and Seahawks night home games.
Sports fans can enjoy traffic-free travel to both the March 29 Mariners home opener at Safeco Field and the Sounders March 31 match at CenturyLink Field.
For an adult one-way fare of $5.75 ($5 with an ORCA card), passengers can enjoy a 15-minute ride across Elliott Bay with views (weather permitting) of the Seattle skyline, Mount Rainier, and Olympic Mountains—and avoid paying for parking in Seattle.
Added sailings on weekdays will mean boats leave every 30 minutes during peak commute hours and every hour in off-peak times.
The Water Taxi is accessible by transit. In West Seattle, riders can take free Metro shuttles to and from the Water Taxi landing at Seacrest Park. Route 773 serves the West Seattle Junction. Route 775 serves the Admiral District and Alki. Both also serve destinations offering dining, shopping, and other entertainment.
The Vashon Island Water Taxi schedule stays the same throughout the year (visit kingcounty.gov/watertaxi to learn more).
If you haven’t been on the WT in a while – remember that the downtown dock continues to be in its temporary location north of Colman Dock. (We’re checking on progress of the new dock.)
As noted this morning in our traffic/transit coverage, the smaller Spirit of Kingston is on the West Seattle Water Taxi run because the regular WS vessel Doc Maynard is filling in for Sally Fox on the Vashon run. We’ve confirmed with the King County Department of Transportation that Sally Fox is out TFN for repairs. From Marine Division director Paul Brodeur:
The AM maintenance crew reporting to work yesterday morning discovered a line had parted overnight on the Sally Fox. This caused the Sally Fox to slip back against a hard edge of the moorage and maintenance barge. As a result of this, the rub rail and deck edge near the passenger loading station was damaged. The vessel has been moved to a local shipyard for repairs. There is no estimate at this time as to how long repairs will take.
This follows Sunday’s windstorm; we have a followup question out about whether that’s what KCDOT thinks is to blame. Both Water Taxi runs are on five-day-a-week operation right now; the West Seattle run moves to its 7-day-a-week schedule on March 29th.
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.
Thanks to the person who texted about a delay in the West Seattle Water Taxi’s departure from downtown around 5 pm. We hadn’t found the reason until this alert just came in:
The West Seattle and Vashon routes of the Water Taxi could be delayed at least 10-15 minutes tonight as all route departures will use the north side of the Pier 52 dock. The Doc Maynard has been taken out of service due to mechanical issues. West Seattle will resume service with the 5:25 pm departure from Pier 52 on the Spirit of Kingston.
Ridership last month on both King County Water Taxi routes set September records, the county DOT says. The new numbers were published today, including:
The West Seattle route (had) 42,444 riders in September, up from 41,057 during the same month last year, representing a 3.4-percent increase.
Total year-to-date ridership is slightly down from last year’s record pace, the report adds, while noting various potential factors likely playing into that, including the five-day service interruption in August when the downtown dock was moved to its temporary location while its new permanent terminal is built. You can see a full month-by-month breakdown via the Data tab on this page of the Water Taxi website. October 29th, by the way, is the last day of this year’s seven-day-a-week schedule; you can preview the weekday-only winter schedule here.
What a way to start the day! Thanks to the King County Water Taxi‘s West Seattle crew for sharing that video – from the Doc Maynard, they saw orcas on this morning’s 6:15 and 6:35 am sailings, Frank Massaro tells WSB, adding that crew member Jade Farrar recorded the video during the latter.
With a Sunday night Sounders FC match, the West Seattle Water Taxi will be on its extended schedule all weekend, as announced tonight. And in case this weekend will be the first time you’ve taken the WSWT since its dock and schedule change – see the new schedule here; last trip from the new dock north of the state-ferry terminal tonight, Saturday, and this Sunday will be 10:45 pm.
The Water Taxi website says it’s official: “King County Water Taxi will resume service out of its temporary location at Pier 52 beginning Saturday, Aug. 12 for the West Seattle route, which will operate on a new sailing schedule. The Vashon Island route will resume service on its normal sailing schedule beginning Monday, Aug. 14.” Both routes have been out of service since Monday so that the dock could move from the south side of the main downtown ferry terminal to the north side (see map above). It’ll be there for about a year and a half while the new passenger-ferry terminal is built on the site of the old one.
As noted here, we asked the county for a Water Taxi update earlier today – how the move to the new temporary dock is going, and whether service might resume short of the “up to one week” that they said they’d need. Tonight, Water Taxi spokesperson Brent Champaco tells us that West Seattle service could resume as soon as Saturday – and that’s also just been published on the Water Taxi website. So – definitely no service tomorrow (Friday, August 11th), but the county will determine whether they’ll be ready to go on Saturday, which would be good because the Mariners and Sounders both play at home. (The Vashon Water Taxi would resume Monday, since it doesn’t run weekends anyway.) So watch for an update tomorrow.
6:39 AM: Welcome to a new week! No incidents in/from West Seattle so far.
NO WATER TAXI SERVICE: Today’s biggest alert – this is the first day of up to a week without King County Water Taxi service. Both the West Seattle and Vashon runs are on hiatus until the new temporary dock on the north side of the downtown ferry terminal is ready to go – as recapped in our reminder published last night.
PAVING REMINDER: Both Beach Drive near Andover and 63rd SW north of Admiral have paving projects in progress. At week’s end, SDOT said that the 63rd project would continue through tomorrow.
STATE FERRIES: The M/V Issaquah, which had mechanical trouble yesterday and left the Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth route for a while, is repaired and back in service, WSF says.
8 AM: WSF now reports fog delays of up to 20 minutes on the route.
One more reminder: The King County Water Taxi is out of service as of tomorrow (Monday, August 7th), for up to a week. That’s a shorter maximum duration than what was originally announced in June, when KCDOT first said a service interruption would be needed for the move to a temporary downtown dock to be used during the overhaul of the permanent site on the south side of Colman Dock. Then in June, a followup announcement included the start date for the interruption, plus the plan for it to last no more than a week. When service resumes, the Water Taxi and Kitsap Transit‘s foot ferries will be using the new temporary dock, which is under construction as of last Monday (WSB coverage here) on the north side of Colman Dock. The temp dock will be in use for about a year and a half, with a revised schedule (find it here), too.
That’s the first of nine piles, each up to 100 feet tall and 3 feet wide, that’ll be driven for the new temporary King County Water Taxi and Kitsap Transit foot-ferry dock on the north side of Washington State Ferries‘ main downtown terminal Colman Dock. The work is starting right now, and we’re at Colman Dock for a media briefing.
As reported here previously, the Water Taxi will suspend service for up to a week, starting next Monday (August 7th), so it can move operations to the temporary dock by the following Monday (August 14th). (Added: Here’s video of Water Taxi spokesperson Brent Champaco:)
The temporary dock is expected to be in use for up to a year and a half while the new passenger-only-ferry terminal is built on the south side of Colman Dock, in the same spot where the current one is. Colman Dock itself also will be renovated/rebuilt over the next five years.
In comments after previous reports, some have wondered why work is starting now, during the peak of summer; at today’s media briefing, it was reiterated that this is because today is the first day of the six-and-a-half month annual period to which in-water construction is limited, to protect salmon and other wildlife. If the full construction period isn’t utilized each year, the completion of the full Colman Dock project could be delayed. And here’s one reason why they need to get going – a section of an old piling with holes from gribbles:
So to recap: No Water Taxi for up to a week starting next Monday; once service resumes, the downtown dock will be in its new temporary location north of Colman Dock, by the waterfront fire station. (Side note: Kitsap Transit’s foot ferry is continuing service during the switch by using Pier 54, further north; Water Taxi reps explain their vessels are too big for that.) More photos/info to come.
The latest government service/agency/etc. asking for your feedback via an online survey – the King County Water Taxi. The new survey is phrased as if you are on board, so if you aren’t riding it today, you might consider answering from the standpoint of your most recent ride, or the reasons you usually use it, even if you only ride a few times a year. The survey starts here.
The WT website Captain’s Blog also provides two updates of potential interest to Water Taxi riders. The newest is about the soon-to-start Colman Dock overhaul that will result in a new foot-ferry terminal; read it here. It’s also a reminder that one week from Monday – starting August 7th – Water Taxi service will be interrupted for up to a week while its downtown terminal moves to an interim location north of Colman Dock.
The other notable update has some new numbers on Water Taxi ridership, including a 7.2 percent increase on the West Seattle run last month over the same period last year. But month-by-month numbers on the “data” tab of this WT-website page have not been updated since the end of last year.
A texter thought some West Seattle Water Taxi riders might want to know that the run is using the smaller Spirit of Kingston right now, and filled up the 5:15 pm run. We’re checking with King County DOT but there are a few factors here – one, the Mariners played a day game, and though it’s been over for two hours, there could be some extra traffic; two, the King County Sheriff’s Office maritime drill is using a Water Taxi vessel, as noted in our daily preview – from MarineTraffic.com, it appears the Sally Fox is that boat, and has been replaced on the Vashon run by the Doc Maynard, resulting in the Spirit of Kingston taking the WS run.
One month ago, we received and published an alert saying that King County Water Taxi service – both West Seattle and Vashon – would be interrupted in August so the downtown dock could be moved when Colman Dock‘s remodeling project revved up.
At the time, the start date was TBA, and the length was described as up to 10 days. Late last night, Water Taxi spokesperson Brent Champaco sent word that the start date is now set: August 7th is the first day of the service suspension, which will last “up to a week.” During that time, the downtown terminal will be moved from the south side of Colman Dock to the north side. It’s expected to remain there into fall of next year, while the new passenger-only ferry terminal is built at Pier 50, for both the Water Taxi and the new Kitsap Fast Ferries service.
As also mentioned in the June announcement, the Water Taxi schedule will change when service resumes from the temporary terminal (see the revised schedule here).
One more note: Water Taxi shuttle-bus routes 773 and 775 will continue running during the August boat-service suspension, the county says.
You’ve probably heard about the big Colman Dock modernization project downtown. It involves the downtown dock for the West Seattle and Vashon Water Taxis as well as Washington State Ferries, and it’s about to get going in a big way. As a result, the King County Department of Transportation is out with a two-part alert this afternoon for Water Taxi users. The biggest part is that the downtown dock will move to a temporary location for about a year and a half, with a revised schedule. And while that move is made, there’ll be a service interruption of up to 10 days. Here’s the official announcement:
Both routes of the popular foot and bike ferry service will be suspended while construction crews move the Water Taxi’s float at Pier 50 on the south end of Colman dock to the north end (toward the fire station and Ivar’s restaurant).
The temporary move is part of a larger project by the state to renovate Colman Dock. The Water Taxi will move back to a new King County owned facility at the south end of the dock in about a year and a half.
The new Water Taxi terminal will have a weather-protected waiting area as well as elevators and a pedestrian bridge to the new Washington State Ferries terminal and its amenities.
While service is suspended in August, bus riders in both service areas can expect to see heavier-than-usual passenger loads on trips to and from downtown.
· Buses—Metro’s Rapid Ride C Line and routes 21, 37, 55, 56, 57, 120, and 125 connect West Seattle to downtown Seattle. Route 116 connects the Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal to downtown Seattle.
· Light rail—Metro Route 50 connects West Seattle to Link light rail at the Columbia City Station.
· Ride sharing—Learn about Carpool, VanPool, and other ride-sharing options at kingcounty.gov/metro/rideshare or contact your employer.
· Telecommuting and alternate work schedules—If your employer allows you to work from home or flex your schedule to avoid peak commute times, you can both bypass and help reduce crowding on buses while the Water Taxi is out of service.
New sailing schedule for West Seattle
When the Water Taxi resumes service after its move to the north side of Colman Dock, the West Seattle route will be on a new schedule. [PDF version here] This will account for the time it takes to board and de-board the route’s growing number of riders, and allow for Washington State Ferries to cross the Water Taxi’s route when arriving and departing from Colman Dock.
To learn more about the move, new facilities, or the new West Seattle schedule, come to an open house on June 21 at Pier 50 (801 Alaskan Way on the Seattle waterfront). Look for the King County Water Taxi tent and drop in any time between 3:30 and 6:30 p.m.
1:21 PM: As noted earlier, today marks the start of the all-day, 7-days-a-week schedule for the West Seattle Water Taxi. And it marks the debut of the new Water Taxi system logo on MV Doc Maynard. We first told you on April 1st about the impending rebranding of the Water Taxi, after it appeared on at least one shuttle bus. At the time, King County was planning an announcement for last Monday, but it was postponed until today. We’ve just received photos and background info from KC Department of Transportation spokesperson Scott Gutierrez:
The Doc Maynard is now sporting the new Water Taxi logo.
The Water Taxi program logo was carefully thought out to be simple, unique and bold. It is designed in a manner that depicts the shape of the Water Taxi vessel. The logo features various elements that are signature to our service:
· Sun and Water – the program brand mark is a conceptual, dual-purpose graphic depicting the Water Taxi and the sun over water. It represents speed, reliability and the Seattle waterscape.
· Speed and Agility – the sleek flavor reflects the design of the Water Taxi’s two catamarans, the MV Sally Fox and MV Doc Maynard.
· Landscape – a reflection of the rider experience on the Water Taxi, whether the destination is Downtown Seattle, West Seattle or Vashon Island.
Last winter, King County DOT — led by graphic designer Amy Sanders — developed new branding for the Water Taxi. This entirely in-house effort — buoyed by support from talented Metro and Department of Natural Resource and Parks graphic designers — showcases a new logo and program mark. The Water Taxi saved some $35,000 by not hiring a consultant and instead relying on in-house talent to develop and design the new branding.
Riders will also notice new branding on the Water Taxi’s printed schedules and website. Riders will begin seeing the new look on the uniforms of our dedicated crew members later this month.
We have a followup question out on what the total cost was/will be, with the savings mentioned above – as noted in our April 1st report, this year’s county budget had included $144,000 for the first rebranding since 2009, when the Water Taxi was part of a no-longer-separate KC Ferry District.
7:06 PM: Gutierrez says the cost breakdown should be available tomorrow. He adds that the Vashon Water Taxi vessel, MV Sally Fox, is expected to get the “rebranding” look next weekend, weather permitting.
ADDED TUESDAY AFTERNOON: As promised, the cost info, from spokesperson Gutierrez:
The actual cost is about $50,000 for the vessel and shuttle rebranding, marketing materials, uniforms, and facility signage. That is below the total $144,000 that Marine Division was budgeted for rebranding over the biennium. We estimate saving about $35,000 alone by not hiring outside consultants and designers, and instead relying on in-house employees to develop and design the new branding. Other savings were mostly a result of the vessel work (vinyl decal/wrapping) and new uniforms coming in below budget.
If you’ve missed the reminders in our weekday traffic coverage – tomorrow (Monday, April 10th) brings the annual return of the West Seattle Water Taxi‘s all-day, 7-days-a-week schedule. In the offseason, the service runs weekdays only, am and pm commute periods only, with no extended service for evening sports events, but starting tomorrow, that all changes. The spring-summer schedule includes later evening runs on Fridays and Saturdays. You can preview it at the bottom of this page.
P.S. The free Water Taxi shuttle buses expand service tomorrow to match the boat schedules, too.
8:37 PM SATURDAY: If you’ve noticed the new look for the King County Water Taxi shuttle – we did too, and tried to find out more about it, and whether it’ll be on the boats too, but the KC Department of Transportation would only say that an announcement is likely on Monday (and that they’d posted a hint on Instagram). We looked into the county budget and it does include a $144,000 item for “rebranding” the Water Taxi, saying that the current branding goes back to when it was part of the King County Ferry District in 2009, before the county merged the Water Taxi back into its DOT as the Marine Division. The budget item mentions rebranding for boats, uniforms, “publicly visible materials.” Meantime, if you missed this news, the backup boat Spirit of Kingston is in the shop right now getting new engines. And as we’ve mentioned a few times, the seven-day-a-week Water Taxi schedule returns on April 10th – one week from Monday.
8:40 PM SUNDAY: KCDOT spokesperson Brent Champaco tells us tonight that the announcement has been delayed – no new date yet.
(Monday afternoon photo by Anand Rajaratnam, before sold-out 4:45 run)
If you took – or tried to take – the Water Taxi home to West Seattle during Monday’s tanker-crash freeway shutdown, you know it was a hot ticket. How hot? We just checked with King County Department of Transportation’s Brent Champaco, who confirms that, as readers told us, the 4:45 and 5:15 runs sold out, and that overall: “The Water Taxi carried 1,200 riders on the evening West Seattle routes. For reference, the typical ridership number for an evening commute in February is 366.” Champaco says that by evening’s end, though, nobody was left behind: “Our crews were able to get everyone who was waiting for a trip to West Seattle onboard by the final scheduled run at 6:45 p.m. Big kudos to our crews.” Might not have worked out that way before January 2016, when the M/V Doc Maynard became West Seattle’s Water Taxi vessel, with capacity of 271, more than double its predecessor, the Spirit of Kingston (which the county has kept as a backup boat).
P.S. If you’re interested in the comparison, here’s our story with the early Water Taxi stats from last year’s tunneling-related Viaduct closure. (Of course, people had advance warning for that.)
Just in from King County Water Taxi management, a reminder that both WT routes – West Seattle and Vashon – will be out of service on Thanksgiving Day and the day after, so after tomorrow, the next day of service will be Monday. Also, if you were wondering too, no extended service for tonight’s Sounders FC playoff match; King County doesn’t do that during the reduced-schedule fall/winter months.
The King County Council has finalized its budget. Back in September, we mentioned two items in County Executive Dow Constantine‘s original proposal, so here’s an update on how those fared:
The first was a plan to cut the KC Sheriff’s Office Air Support Unit, which would have meant no more helicopter availability for Seattle Police as well as other agencies assisted by the KCSO helicopters. The final budget did NOT include that cut, so the helicopter will stay in service.
Second, the proposal to provide “stable funding” for the King County Water Taxi (West Seattle to downtown and Vashon Island to downtown) stayed in the budget, according to a statement from King County Council chair Joe McDermott, who represents the areas served by the Water Taxi. As we reported in September, the funding will come from a levy that is already in place, originally intended for the Water Taxi, then shifted to buses, now shifted back.