West Seattle, Washington
The King County Department of Transportation says its West Seattle and Vashon Island Water Taxi runs already have passed last year’s total of 515,000 boardings, with two and a half months left in 2016. 339,479 riders were on the WS run, with 175,575 to/from Vashon, the county says, noting that this year’s spikes included the Alaskan Way Viaduct closure last spring and busier summer months than usual – 24,000 extra riders in June, July, and August.
You might recall that the West Seattle run used to shut down entirely during the fall and winter months, but that changed six years ago, and it now runs five days a week during the cooler months; this year’s weekday-only schedule starts on Halloween, two weeks from today.
Also coming up this fall: The King County Council will decide whether to approve County Executive Dow Constantine‘s proposal for stable, permanent funding for the Water Taxi, shifting $9 million in levy money that had been going to buses, but not increasing what taxpayers pay.
Read the official ridership-milestone announcement here.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
So far we’ve found two big items of interest in King County Executive Dow Constantine‘s two-year budget proposal, made public this morning.
*The King County Water Taxi, serving West Seattle and Vashon, would have a “stable source” of funding – 1.25 cents per $1,000 valuation. The levy was reduced in 2009 and “reserves” have been used since then, but, says the budget book, “those reserves are now exhausted.”
*The King County Air Support Unit, including this area’s only law-enforcement helicopter Guardian One, will be shut down by 2018 unless, Constantine says, there’s tax reform. In 2017 it would be limited to search-and-rescue operations in King County; in 2018, it would be shut down entirely.
First, the Water Taxi toplines, from the 753-page full budget document:
*The county currently has been taxing for the passenger-ferry service at a third of a cent per $1,000 of assessed property valuation. That funding has been supplemented by reserves that the budget says have run out. Constantine proposes increasing the tax rate to 1.25 cents per $1,000 starting next year because the service is “no longer able to draw on reserves to stay afloat.” (Math = $2/year now if your property is assessed at $600,000; just under $8/year with the increase.) Without that increase, next year wouldrun $3 million short. The gap already has been narrowed, the budget book points out, by “efficiencies” enabling the new boats to be operated with a crew of 3 rather than 4.
(added 6:53 pm) King County DOT spokesperson Jeff Switzer sent this clarification:
Taxes won’t be going up as a result of this budget.
The collected property tax amount will stay the same, meaning the county will reduce the property tax collected for Metro by just over $9 million, and the property tax collected for Water Taxi (Marine) will be increased by just over $9 million. No net dollar increase in property tax collections for marine/transit.
The budget calls for another fare increase in 2018, 50 cents for adults, to continue its every-two-year increases.
And one more major Water Taxi note – while there’s no money for it in this two-year budget, there is a line item to “plan, design, and construct a new West Seattle (Water Taxi) terminal during the 2019-2010 budget cycle,” noting that Seacrest has always been meant as just a “temporary” terminal.
*Next, the helicopter elimination, which is just one of several major public-safety cuts in the county executive’s budget, explained in the news release about the budget, with a call for “local tax reform”:
… King County’s General Fund primarily supports criminal justice and other functions required by the state. About 59 percent of net General Fund revenues come from property taxes. The balance is comprised of sales tax and other sources.
In 2007, legislators reinstated Tim Eyman’s I-747, which had been tossed out by the state Supreme Court. The law arbitrarily limited revenue growth in most property taxes to 1 percent annually. The value of new construction is added to the tax base, which amounts to about 0.5 percent to 2.0 percent depending on the economy.
Because property tax is limited below the rate of population growth and inflation, the General Fund is chronically stressed. Last year, about 37,000 people moved to King County, adding to the demands for transit, behavioral and mental health programs, public safety, and other services.
Over the last few months, Executive Constantine worked with the Office of Performance, Strategy, and Budget, county departments, and elected officials to balance the $1.6 billion General Fund budget. Through a mix of revenue changes, efficiencies, and spending reductions, Executive Constantine resolved a $22.4 million shortfall.
Program cuts and service reductions in this budget include:
*Reductions in the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.
*Closing the work release facility and electronic home detention programs by Jan. 1, 2018.
*Eliminating inmate booking at the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent as of Jan. 1, 2018.
*Eliminating the King County Sheriff’s Office air support and marine units by Jan. 1, 2018.
“We will do everything we can to mitigate the impact of these cuts, but let there be no mistake — unless the Legislature fixes the problem, these reductions will only get worse over time,” said Executive Constantine. “And local governments across the state face the identical situation.”
While Guardian One is operated by King County, it is the only helicopter available for regional law-enforcement agencies including Seattle Police.
We’re still reading the county budget and will report on anything else of direct local interest. It now will go through a review-and-comment process in the weeks ahead – find the details here. Our area’s County Councilmember is Joe McDermott, so if you have something to say about these issues or others in the budget, you can e-mail him at email@example.com.
10:24 PM: Thanks for the tips on this – the 9:30 West Seattle Water Taxi run from downtown, and 10 pm run from Seacrest, have been canceled, and multiple passengers waiting on the downtown dock tell us they were told a “security breach” is to blame, but that there’ll be a sailing from downtown soon. The first tipster tells us – and the online Water Taxi Watch verifies – that the Doc Maynard was parked at the nearby maintenance barge instead of Pier 50 while this was investigated. Working to find out more.
10:39 PM: We’ve heard back from both Jeff Switzer with KC Department of Transportation and Greg Lerner from the Marine Division. Both say a trespasser was being investigated at the Water Taxi maintenance facility, that Seattle Police responded, and that passengers should be on a sailing headed this way shortly. Water Taxi Watch shows Doc Maynard has now moved over to Pier 50.
10:47 PM: One passenger tells us police are still in view, checking out the other two Water Taxi vessels (the maintenance barge is a short distance south of Pier 50 downtown). Vessel Watch shows Doc Maynard now headed this way.
We just checked on the West Seattle Water Taxi numbers for this morning – first commute post-Viaduct closure – after commenter Elton wondered how ridership had gone. From Greg Lerner of the King County Marine Division:
6:15 am – 52
6:45 am – 81
7:15 am – 115
7:45 am – 94
8:15 am – 78
8:45 am – 62
9:15 am – 45
That’s higher than the pre-closure norm, Lerner says, while about half of the ridership tallied last Monday, a Viaductless day with almost perfect weather, and the highest West Seattle ridership day of the entire closure, according to the county’s overview of how both WT runs did for the shutdown period:
The West Seattle and Vashon Water Taxi routes carried record numbers of riders during the 99 closure. Preliminary tallies from April 29 through May 7 show the two routes carried an estimated 30,000 riders, compared to about 13,500 riders the week before.
“We’re thankful to everyone who looked at other travel options besides driving during the closure, and thrilled to see ridership this high,” said Paul Brodeur, director of King County’s Marine Division. “We hope riders continue to see the water taxi as a good option for their trips to and from downtown.”
The West Seattle route roughly tripled its typical ridership as riders took advantage of additional parking options and regular spring service. The service on that route carried more than 24,000 riders compared to a typical 8,000 riders over the same time period. The single-day peak ridership to and from West Seattle was 3,269 riders on May 2, more than triple the riders compared to the week before.
Vashon route ridership climbed by a total of 900 riders during the 99 closure as riders took advantage of additional round trips. Ridership peaked at 1,100 on May 4 compared to about 900 the week before.
One last reminder in case you used it today: After last night’s earlier-than-projected reopening of the Alaskan Way Viaduct due to tunneling progress (now 342 of the originally announced 385 feet needed to totally clear the AWV), today was the last day of added Water Taxi parking and larger shuttles. The West Seattle Water Taxi runs year-round, weekdays in late fall/winter and seven days a week in spring/summer/early fall; its current schedule continues until October 30th. It’s been four months since the new vessel Doc Maynard took over the run, with a capacity of more than 270 passengers.
As we get ready for the second weekday of the Alaskan Way Viaduct closure, the West Seattle Water Taxi usage numbers so far are just in from the King County Department of Transportation:
West Seattle Water Taxi estimated ridership highlights (seven-day service)
April 29, 2016: 3,018 total riders vs. 963 riders on April 22, 2016.
Fullest trips: 236 and 219 passengers at 5:15 p.m. and 5:45 p.m.
Friday AM Peak (6:15-9:15 a.m.): 922 riders vs. 301 riders on April 22, 2016.
Friday PM Peak (3:45-7 p.m.): 1,471 riders vs. 423 riders on April 22, 2016.
April 30, 2016: 3,075 total riders, including one sold-out trip at 3:30 p.m. after the Sounders game, compared to 871 riders on Saturday, April 23, 2016.
May 1, 2016: 1,656 total riders, compared to 240 riders Sunday, April 24, 2016.
The WS boat Doc Maynard was NOT sold out for any of the Friday commute runs – it holds more than 270 passengers – so there’s room for more people to try it out. If you’re riding your bicycle, the boat’s rack holds 26 bikes:
If you’re parking a motor vehicle the added lot at Pier 2 (across from the 7-11 at Harbor/Florida) was significantly underutilized – park there about 20 minutes before your sailing, and catch a free added shuttle to the dock. Just remember the lot is locked between am and pm commute periods. Get complete info on the West Seattle Water Taxi and its Viaduct-closure-related changes by going here.
A day and a half to go until the Alaskan Way Viaduct is closed early Friday so that the Highway 99 tunneling machine can start going under it. If you work in or near downtown, you might be planning to use the West Seattle Water Taxi, which has a new boat twice the capacity of the one it had during the 2011 Viaduct closure, among other attributes (the Doc Maynard is faster, too). Ideally, you will get to and from the dock at Seacrest by busing, biking (the boat has room for 26 bikes), walking, or getting dropped off at the dock. If none of that is possible – here’s what you need to know about the parking situation, with added spaces during the closure, as detailed in this special brochure:
That’s the sign at the entrance to Pier 2, right across from the 7-11 in the 2400 block of Harbor Avenue SW, and that’s where you will drive in – these gates will be open:
This lot has about 200 parking spaces and a free shuttle to and from Seacrest – separate from the regular WT shuttle – but because it’s a “secured facility,” it also has restrictions:
It will be staffed Monday through Friday, in the morning from 5:45 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. and in the afternoon between 4 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. Cars will not be accessible outside of these hours. We suggest you park here 20 minutes before sailing time. The shuttle will run the .6 mile route continuously between Pier 2 and Seacrest Park.
The county Department of Transportation, which operates the Water Taxi, says the “staffing” means people will be there to point you in the right direction and answer questions.
Closer to the pier, more street parking along Harbor Avenue SW should be available because – as the now-in-place no-parking signs warn – parking is off-limits 2-5 am along the water side of Harbor Avenue during the closure. ONE CHANGE:
Thanks to nearby resident Carolyn for catching this – there’s a change in where that restriction is in place. While the Water Taxi’s closure-related brochure said they would be only south of Seacrest, they instead stretch north to just east of the small angled-parking area at Duwamish Head. Again, these street-parking spaces are available except for 2-5 am.
Finally, about 40 spaces will be available in this unpaved area south of Salty’s on Alki (WSB sponsor), which is the city-owned Bronson street end – look for the Parks sign so you know you’re in the right place:
Where NOT to park: Don Armeni Boat Ramp. While some spaces were made available there in 2011, that was late October and not much boating going on. This time it’s not part of the plan.
Other points if you’re new to the Water Taxi:
*The sailing schedule is here. The Doc Maynard leaves West Seattle every half-hour from 6:15 to 9:15, and then takes a break until 11 am.
*You can buy your ticket(s) via machines at the dock – at Seacrest, on the east side of the building – or else pay as you board, with exact-change cash or an ORCA card.
*Find the shuttle-bus schedules via this page on the Water Taxi website – follow the “buses” tab and then click the route number for the schedule. (Almost forgot to mention – as announced last week, these buses will be upsized during the closure, 39 passengers.)
And again, here’s the special Viaduct-closure-related brochure for the West Seattle Water Taxi. We’ll have a crew at Seacrest on Friday morning to report on how things are going, as part of our expanded commute coverage during the Viaduct closure.
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) April 10, 2016
11:28 AM: The sun is starting to win its fight with the clouds and that means it’s an even-better day for a free ride on the West Seattle Water Taxi – if you’ve never been on it before, you might at least want to take a trial run in case you need it during the upcoming 2-week Alaskan Way Viaduct closure. The county has declared this “Customer Appreciation Day” with all trips free to the end of today’s schedule – 8 pm is the last run from Seacrest (1660 Harbor SW). If you get here before noon, free refreshments are happening under the blue tent by the gangway, but otherwise, it’s a low-key celebration. Lots of room on the M/V Doc Maynard, which is double the capacity of its predecessor – it has room for 270+ passengers.
12:26 PM: Adding more photos. Thanks to Alex Erzen for this photo taken during his ride:
Two photos by WSB’s Patrick Sand:
You can get to and from Seacrest via the free Water Taxi shuttle – today’s schedules are here (Route 773 to and from The Junction) and here (Route 775 to and from Admiral and Alki). Parking can be a challenge; for the Viaduct closure expected later this spring, there will be added parking and shuttles, as detailed in the presentation that the City Council will see tomorrow.
One week from tomorrow, the West Seattle Water Taxi starts its spring/summer 7-days-a-week schedule. Two days later, you’ll get to ride the new M/V Doc Maynard – twice the capacity of its predecessor – for free during Community Appreciation Day on Sunday, April 10th, hosted by the King County Marine Division at Seacrest Pier. Full announcement after the jump:
King County Water Taxi fares are going up on March 1st. We just found the new fares posted on the Water Taxi website – most fares on the West Seattle-to-downtown run are going up 50 cents each way, and most remain discounted if you use an ORCA card to pay:
When the system’s first-ever “strategic plan” was published a little more than a year ago, it pointed out that while “farebox recovery” was rising, the system was still operating unsustainably, and more had to be done to increase revenue. The county is also studying adding more routes – as noted in the newest Water Taxi newsletter, two on Lake Washington and one from downtown to Ballard are under discussion. Ridership on both existing routes – West Seattle and Vashon Island – set a record last year, surpassing half a million passengers.
The M/V Doc Maynard is ending its first West Seattle-to-Downtown Seattle passenger run right about now; our Instagram clip above shows its first WS arrival, our YouTube clip below, its first departure:
TV lights shone on the first passengers to board; we were on Seacrest Pier watching as they admired the big new boat, delivered and dedicated in last September – since then, it’s spent some time filling in for its twin boat on the Vashon run, M/V Sally Fox, and awaited dock improvements at Seacrest, which were finished last month, enabling the crew to train for today and beyond. It can hold 278 passengers, more than twice its predecessor, the Spirit of Kingston, which is now the KCWT’s backup boat. And there’s rack space for 26 bicycles. KC Department of Transportation’s Marine Division director Paul Brodeur talked up other key points while the DM was boarding:
The half-million-passenger ridership milestone he mentioned was celebrated last month.
(September photo of M/V Doc Maynard, by Mike)
Three and a half months after its ceremonial dedication, the M/V Doc Maynard will finally take over the King County Water Taxi’s West Seattle-to-Downtown Seattle run tomorrow. Just in from the King County Department of Transportation:
Pier modifications to Seacrest Dock and crew training have been completed clearing the way for the MV Doc Maynard to begin morning service on the West Seattle route tomorrow (Thursday) morning. The MV Doc Maynard will serve as the primary vessel on the West Seattle route with the Spirit of Kingston backing her up as necessary.
The vessel, built by All American Marine in Bellingham, carries 278 passengers, 131 more than the Spirit of Kingston. The added capacity will offer more room as the West Seattle route continues to grow. In 2015, the West Seattle route served over 313,000 passengers, an increase of nearly 11 percent from 2014.
Like the M/V Sally Fox that operates the Vashon run, the Doc Maynard has indoor and outdoor seating, ADA accessible bathrooms and wheelchair tie-downs, space for 26 bicycles and video screens that will display safety, schedule and trip information. But because the new vessel will be spending most of its time in the calmer waters of Elliott Bay, passengers will have access to an outdoor forward bow that will offer a better view of the sights.
The Doc Maynard was welcomed to the fleet with a dedication celebration in mid-September (WSB coverage here). The pier-modification work was done last month. The WS Water Taxi is on a Monday-Friday, commute-times-only schedule until early April, which means its debut run from West Seattle should be a 6:15 am Seacrest departure Thursday morning.
This time of year, the King County Water Taxi runs are Monday through Friday only, so you might do a double-take to see the current and future West Seattle Water Taxis, Spirit of Kingston and Doc Maynard, at Seacrest tomorrow. County Department of Transportation spokesperson Rochelle Ogershok tells WSB that they’ll be involved in installation/adjustment of dock upgrades tomorrow, as preparations continue for putting the DM on the run full time next month.
One day after celebrating the King County Water Taxi system’s half-millionth passenger of the year – a record – workers were busy today getting Seacrest ready for the newer, bigger boats. Thanks to Carolyn Newman for the photo; as we reported earlier this month, once the dock work is done and the crews are trained, M/V Doc Maynard will become the regular West Seattle Water Taxi vessel sometime next month. (Today’s work isn’t interrupting service, because this is the time of year that the Water Taxi only runs on weekdays.)
This afternoon, the King County Water Taxi marked a milestone – the first year with more than half a million riders. Before the 4:50 pm run from downtown, regular rider Mary Ballanger, a West Seattle resident, was designated and celebrated as the ceremonial 500,000th passenger:
According to the KC Department of Transportation:
The previous annual record for the Water Taxi was 467,119 passengers in 2014. In addition to the Water Taxi system milestone, each route is achieving a record year for ridership.
The West Seattle route currently stands at 307,500 passengers for 2015. In addition to surpassing the 300,000 passenger mark for the first time, the total also surpasses the 282,662 passenger record set last year. The Vashon route is currently at 192,500 passengers for 2015 and will exceed 200,000 passengers later this month. The previous record on this route was 187,824 passengers set in 2013.
As the Water Taxi service continues to grow, so does the King County Marine Division’s fleet. Earlier this year, the Water Taxi launched two new vessels with the capacity of 278 passengers each. In the prior three years, the Marine Division also added a back-up vessel along with a new moorage and maintenance barge as part of its fleet expansion.
In all, KCDOT says, it’s served 3.1 million riders since 2009. The new M/V Doc Maynard is expected to take over the West Seattle run next month, after training and dock improvement, as reported here earlier this month.
(September photo by Carolyn Newman)
When the new West Seattle Water Taxi, M/V Doc Maynard, was dedicated back in September, it was expected to take over the route this month. So we just checked in with the King County Department of Transportation to see how soon that’ll happen. Spokesperson Rochelle Ogershok tells WSB that installation of the “new boarding ramp and other improvements to accommodate the larger vessel” are expected to start at Seacrest Pier this Saturday (December 5th) and are likely to last about two weeks. Then, she adds, “After the work is completed, our crews will begin testing and training on the route. That will take about two weeks. So we would expect the Doc Maynard to start operating the West Seattle run in early January.” Ogershok says the installation work will not affect regularly scheduled Water Taxi operations; this time of year, the route runs weekdays only, am and pm commute times.
And with that, the M/V Doc Maynard was officially welcomed to the King County Water Taxi fleet – though it’s not expected to join the West Seattle-Downtown Seattle run until December – after filling in for its twin M/V Sally Fox on the Vashon run for a while, and after some work is done at Seacrest to accommodate its size and configuration. The celebration at Pier 50 downtown included speeches and even stories – King County Councilmember Joe McDermott, drawing on a past gig as an Underground Tour guide, told the tale of the boat’s namesake:
After the speeches and bottle-smashing, it was out onto the bay for a test run. Here’s a quick look around the top deck at the stern (there’s room for more than 30 to stand at the bow, too) – mouse over the Instagram image to bring up the “play” button:
Interior, main deck, new West Seattle Water Taxi. pic.twitter.com/wV8tnXGu2b
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) September 18, 2015
We have lots of photos, video, and info to add once we’re back at HQ.
ADDED FRIDAY NIGHT: More from the event – first, the group shot of West Seattleites who took the short “maiden voyage” after the ceremony, out into the bay and back:
(Photo courtesy KCDOT)
The county points out that the space on the bow is one thing differentiating Doc Maynard from Sally Fox – since the DM will travel mostly in calmer Elliott Bay waters, rather than across the heart of the sound as SF does to get to Vashon Island. Here’s what it looks like on the inside upper passenger deck, which has a view directly into the wheelhouse:
On the outer lower deck, at the stern, some of the bicycle storage:
The event wasn’t just a celebration of the new boat – funded mostly with a grant from the federal government (which had a rep on hand too) – but also of the Water Taxi’s history. It was pointed out that it now goes back 17 years, into the late 1990s, at which time then-King County Councilmember Greg Nickels championed it as a “demonstration project.” Introduced as “the father of the Water Taxi,” he spoke today too:
Nickels noted that the fellow West Seattleites with whom he stood, County Executive Dow Constantine and Councilmember McDermott, also worked with him back in the Water Taxi’s early days. If you’ve been around a while, you’ll recall other boats that have handled the Water Taxi’s run; while the way-back boats weren’t present for the ceremony, the other three current boats were out on the water as the Doc Maynard pulled away:
Besides the Sally Fox, you saw in that clip the current West Seattle boat, the Spirit of Kingston, and the current backup, the Melissa Ann, which is leased. SofK will be the backup boat once Doc Maynard goes into service.
(Photo by Carolyn Newman)
With three days to go until the ceremony dedicating West Seattle’s new Water Taxi, the M/V Doc Maynard, it’s already out and about testing the waters following its arrival in Elliott Bay at the end of last week. And the county says the entire Water Taxi fleet is or has already gone green:
What could be better than commuting across Puget Sound in a water taxi and bypassing all that traffic? Now there’s yet another reason to appreciate the ride – in addition to fighting congestion, these King County water taxis are doing their part to combat greenhouse gas emissions by switching to the use of biodiesel fuel.
“Using homegrown biodiesel, our water taxis have some of the cleanest-burning engines around,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “The use of biodiesel on the newest member of our fleet, the Sally Fox, will reduce particulates in the air and prevent more than 140 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year.”
In line with the biodiesel initiative, the County’s Marine Division has earned membership in the Passenger Vessel Association’s Green WATERS Program – a national volunteer effort that encourages environmental responsibility and action to reduce the environmental impacts of marine operations.
The Sally Fox, soon to be joined by a second new vessel, the Doc Maynard, has a host of green features that include:
· Operating on a locally-sourced 10 percent biodiesel blend, which reduces our dependence on fossil fuel.
· Engines that operate more cleanly and emit less particulate matter.
· The addition of high-efficiency heating systems, LED lights, and recycling stations to help reduce waste.
· Expanded capacity for bicycles. The new vessels can accommodate 26 bicycles on every trip.
When the County’s third vessel, The Spirit of Kingston, has its annual maintenance this fall, fuel tanks will be cleaned readying the vessel to burn biodiesel.
(Photo from M/V Doc Maynard’s launch in Bellingham, courtesy King County DOT)
If you have eyes on Elliott Bay somewhere in the 4-5 pm vicinity tomorrow, you just might see West Seattle’s new Water Taxi, the M/V Doc Maynard, arriving in its new home waters. That’s the word from King County Transportation Department spokesperson Rochelle Ogershok. Once the Bellingham-built boat is here, she adds, “Once here, the vessel will start undergoing training and crew familiarization in Elliott Bay. Then of course, there will be the dedication ceremony next Friday [September 18th].” If you missed our preview of that last month – read it here.
P.S. The Doc Maynard might be a little hard to spot tomorrow unless you’re close enough to see its name, since it’s a twin to the M/V Sally Fox, which is already in service on the Vashon-to-Seattle run. The Doc Maynard, KCDOT told us last month, will be replacing it for a few weeks before going into service on the West Seattle route.
(Photo from M/V Doc Maynard’s launch in Bellingham, courtesy King County DOT)
As first reported here last week, the new King County Water Taxi vessel that will serve West Seattle is due to arrive in about a month. And now the county has announced the plan for a dedication ceremony on September 18th – though it won’t be happening on this side of the bay:
We cordially invite you to the dedication ceremony and celebration for the new King County Water Taxi vessel, the M/V Doc Maynard.
Named in honor of an early Seattle leader, the Doc Maynard will provide safe, comfortable and environmentally sound transportation to the growing number of riders on the King County Water Taxi’s West Seattle-downtown Seattle route.
The dedication event will be held Friday, Sept. 18, 11:30 a.m. at the King County Water Taxi dock on Pier 50 in downtown Seattle.
After the ceremony you are invited to board the Doc Maynard for her maiden voyage.
Guests coming to the event from West Seattle are welcome to take a special trip from Seacrest Dock departing at 10:45 a.m. to the event at Pier 50 on the current Water Taxi vessel, the Spirit of Kingston. We will provide a return trip to West Seattle for invited following the maiden voyage, departing Pier 50 at 12:35 p.m. (both trips are free of charge). A community celebration event will be held at Seacrest Dock at a later date, after the Doc Maynard starts regular service on the West Seattle route.
If you want to ride over per the aforementioned offer, the Spirit of Kingston will leave Seacrest at 10:45 that morning; the ceremony at Pier 50 begins with remarks at 11:30 am; the return trip to Seacrest leaves Pier 50 at 12:35 pm.
If you ride the King County Water Taxi‘s West Seattle-to-downtown route, that’s the new vessel you’ll be on starting sometime this fall. M/V Doc Maynard is being built at All American Marine in Bellingham, as was the new Vashon Island Water Taxi M/V Sally Fox; the photos are from Doc Maynard’s launch into Bellingham Bay last week to start sea trials.
According to an online update from Water Taxi management, M/V Doc Maynard will arrive in Seattle in about a month. Here’s what the county says will happen after that:
After the Doc Maynard arrives in Seattle, the King County Marine Division will familiarize the crew with the vessel, conduct route-specific training, and go through U.S. Coast Guard safety drills. Following a dedication event, the Doc Maynard will be put into service on the Vashon route for up to four weeks while the Sally Fox returns to Bellingham to undergo warranty work. When the Sally Fox returns, the Doc Maynard will go into service on the West Seattle route, increasing the capacity and comfort of this service.
Federal grant money covered 80 percent of the nearly $12 million cost of the two new passenger ferries.
More water taxi news from the summer newsletter – ridership is up:
And the newsletter also notes that the county is continuing to look at possible expansion: “King County has asked the Marine Division and our consultant, KPFF Engineering, to look at future route opportunities on both Lake Washington and Puget Sound. A report of viable options is expected by year’s end.”
Another quick lookahead to the holiday weekend: The King County Department of Transportation has just announced the Water Taxi schedule: For the West Seattle route, Friday, July 3rd, and Saturday, July 4th, will both be on the Saturday schedule; for the Vashon route, no service on Friday (Saturday’s already an off-day).
(WSB photo from M/V Sally Fox’s March dedication on Vashon)
Imagine driving onto a state ferry with open sides, every vehicle exposed to the elements. Now imagine the ferry traveling fast enough to chop across the water, with spray on all sides, especially on a stormy day. Regular users would likely wind up with rust. This is the situation faced by people bringing bicycles onto King County Water Taxis – because of the new vessels’ design, which has bicycle parking out on the open deck, instead of inside, as is the case with the current West Seattle Water Taxi, Spirit of Kingston, for example.
The latest attempt to get some relief for the problem – especially with the new Vashon boat M/V Sally Fox now in service and its twin the M/V Doc Maynard coming to West Seattle later this year – is in this letter signed by local bicycle shop owners:
The problem was surfaced by Vashon bicyclists before the Sally Fox went into service; we’re checking today with the King County Department of Transportation to see if one of the fixes suggested in the letter above is in the works, or if they’re responding in another way. We’ll add the response when we get it later today.
ADDED 3:15 PM: Here’s the KCDOT response to our inquiry about this, via spokesperson Jeff Switzer:
We’ve been talking with our water taxi customers who ride bikes. Some have concerns about the outdoor storage area that salt spray could be a problem for their bikes while others do not. We have been monitoring the area for such concerns and thus far this has not been a problem. We communicated to the cyclists that gathered for a community meeting on Vashon in March, that actual vessel operations would be monitored over time, giving us a chance to observe any adverse weather conditions during the fall and winter to see what, if any impact there are to bikes. This will give us time to determine whether there is a problem. So far, we are encouraged that our current plan to provide safe and secure bike storage is working. In the Vashon community meeting we offered storage space on the vessel for individual bike covers, and proposed a bike wash down station to be designed into the new pier 50 terminal.