West Seattle, Washington
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.
Two West Seattle Water Taxi notes this morning:
EXTENDED SCHEDULE ON THURSDAY: Just announced via text and on the WT website, the West Seattle Water Taxi will run on an extended schedule this Thursday, for the Sounders FC playoff match. The times are on the schedule page.
LAST WEEK OF THIS YEAR’S 7-DAY-A-WEEK SCHEDULE: This also gives us the opportunity to mention that it’s the final week of this year’s seven-day-a-week schedule – after next Sunday, the 5-day-a-week fall/winter schedule begins on Monday (October 31st). You can also preview that on the WSWT schedule page. The 5-day-a-week schedule runs through March 31, 2017.
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.