West Seattle, Washington
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.
The King County Department of Transportation is circulating the reminder tonight: Monday is the first day of the West Seattle Water Taxi‘s extended spring/summer schedule – not only 7 days a week, but also middays on weekdays, not just the am/pm commute runs covered in the winter schedule. Just in time, since Monday is opening day for the Mariners, with a 1:10 pm game. You can see the new schedule here.
The first of two new King County Water Taxis was christened on Vashon Island today. Above, breaking mesh-covered champagne bottles onto the M/V Sally Fox, that’s County Executive Dow Constantine, Ms. Fox’s daughter Kelly Fox Violet, and County Councilmember Joe McDermott. Big turnout at the passenger-ferry dock on north Vashon:
Here’s a better look at the boat, whose twin, M/V Doc Maynard, is coming to West Seattle this fall.
Executive Constantine talked about the growth in Water Taxi ridership – 445,000 trips last year, taking cars off the roads:
He also mentioned seeing people at the ceremony whose involvement with the county’s foot-ferry efforts goes way back. We noticed one of them – his predecessor, former County Executive Ron Sims:
During Sims’s tenure, the county took over Vashon foot-ferry service, which was formerly run by the state. Meantime, 80 percent of the $11 million cost of the two new boats – both built at All American Marine in Bellingham – was covered by federal grant money. Another financial point, brought up by County Councilmember Joe McDermott – savings realized by merging the King County Ferry District into the county Department of Transportation:
He talked about the Vashon boat’s namesake, Sally Fox, who died in 2007; her widower, retired Judge Michael Fox, also spoke at the event. Here’s the plaque that will honor her onboard:
One more look at the boat!
With room for 250 passengers and 26 bicycles, the Sally Fox officially goes into service next month. Go here to read the official county news release about the boat and today’s event.
P.S. It’s not affected by this, but in case you wondered – the West Seattle Water Taxi’s seven-days-a-week spring/summer schedule starts on April 6th, one week from Monday.
According to MarineTraffic.com, the first of two new King County Water Taxis, M/V Sally Fox, is now docked in Seattle. Before the vessel left All American Marine to head south, the Bellingham Herald put together this video with a look inside:
The Sally Fox will serve the Seattle-Vashon run, but the Bellingham Herald’s sneak peek is a de-facto preview of what the new West Seattle Water Taxi, M/V Doc Maynard, also will look like, since it’s a twin being built by AAM, expected to arrive in October. First: For an in-person look at M/V Sally Fox, make plans to be at the north Vashon Island dock on March 28th – we’ve mentioned that date before, but now King County has published a schedule of events for the 1-4 pm dedication celebration that day.
Another question that’s come in today: Is the West Seattle Water Taxi running for the Sounders opener? Answer: No; no weekend runs at all until 7-day-a-week, all-day service resumes in four weeks. By then, the first of the two new Water Taxis will join the fleet – M/V Sally Fox, on the Vashon Island run – lots of details in the new Water Taxi newsletter, including a more-specific timeline for the West Seattle vessel M/V Doc Maynard‘s expected arrival – mid-October.
If you can’t read it as embedded above (note the “zoom,” “fullscreen,” and other controls in the window), here it is as a PDF.
(Click picture to see larger image)
With the county launching Water Taxi Watch and planning the debut of the new Vashon Island Water Taxi M/V Sally Fox for late March, we asked how construction is proceeding with West Seattle’s new vessel, the M/V Doc Maynard. In response, the county Department of Transportation shared the photo taken at All American Marine in Bellingham, where, KCDOT spokesperson Rochelle Ogershok says, “Last week the engines were inserted into the hull and the cabin was also attached to the hull. We are still on target for delivery of the vessel this fall.”
When the new vessels are both in service, the county plans to keep Spirit of Kingston, the current West Seattle Water Taxi, as a backup. It has already stopped leasing the SoK’s predecessor Rachel Marie – which went into service on the West Seattle run in 2010 – and will do so with the current Vashon vessel Melissa Ann. The two new boats’ cost will total $11.8 million, 80 percent of which is being covered by federal funding.
P.S. The Water Taxi’s 7-day-a-week schedule resumes April 6th.
(Photo of today’s foggy sunset, by Chi Krneta)
Take the Water Taxi from Pier 50? Or state ferries from Colman Dock? Downtown-waterfront access is changing downtown from next Monday through mid-May, as announced today:
(Photo from Seacrest at sunset, by WSB’s Patrick Sand)
All vehicles will enter the Washington State Ferries terminal at Colman Dock via Yesler Way as part of temporary changes being implemented by the State Route 99 Tunnel Project and the Elliott Bay Seawall Project. Terminal access will also shift for pedestrians, bicyclists and King County Water Taxi passengers and remain in place through May 2015. Through traffic north and south on Alaskan Way remains unchanged. Drivers/riders exiting Colman Dock via Yesler Way may see some intersection modifications this week as construction crews prepare for the Monday shift.
View a detailed map of the following temporary changes near Colman Dock:
· Drivers will turn left or right into the WSF terminal from Alaskan Way at Yesler Way.
o For southbound traffic, one lane of Alaskan Way in front of the ferry terminal will be dedicated to ferry access.
o A left-turn lane will accommodate northbound traffic at Yesler Way.
o Vehicles will exit the ferry dock onto Yesler Way or Marion Street.
· Pedestrian access through the Seawall Project construction zone will be maintained to the WSF terminal in two ways: the current pedestrian bridge at Marion Street, and at street level immediately west of the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Street level access will be maintained at all times, although it will shift at various points during construction.
· Bicyclists will enter and exit the ferry terminal on the north side of Yesler Way via the shared-use path.
· King County Water Taxi riders will enter and exit via Yesler Way.
· Passenger pickup and drop-off (including access for people with disabilities) will be shifted to the west side of the roadway between Marion and Columbia streets.
· Taxi waiting areas are also available at the current location on the east side of Alaskan Way between Marion and Columbia streets. A new taxi waiting area will – be added on Marion Street between Alaskan Way and Western Avenue.
According to an alert sent tonight to King County Water Taxi riders, the regular West Seattle Water Taxi vessel, Spirit of Kingston, is going in for annual maintenance, so for the next two weeks or so, starting Monday, Melissa Ann will be on the West Seattle run, and Victoria Clipper III will fill in for Vashon. Side note: We talked recently with Greg Lerner of the King County Department of Transportation Marine Division, and he says construction of the two new Water Taxis is on schedule; Sally Fox, the Vashon vessel, is set for delivery first, to be followed by the West Seattle vessel, Doc Maynard.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
They’re in the just-approved, first-ever “strategic plan” for the King County Ferry District, which operates Water Taxi service on the downtown/Vashon and downtown/West Seattle runs – read the final version here or below:
One of the first steps to be taken is to end the Ferry District’s existence as a separate entity. The County Council is scheduled to vote on “assuming governance” of the district during its 11 am meeting tomorrow, one week after, sitting as the Ferry District Board chaired by West Seattle’s Councilmember Joe McDermott, it approved the strategic plan.
Another big decision ahead: Funding, with the plan describing the service as “”currently financially unsustainable given annual revenue, service costs, and current and near-term capital improvement needs.”
Consolidating the district into county government will help, according to the plan, because it “will eliminate redundant functions of the District and County. Separate District contracts for Legal and Accounting services can be terminated and Ferry District staff will not be needed. The annual savings from consolidation can go directly to providing services.”
But that won’t cover the gap, the report suggests. From the plan, here’s a chart showing what’s happened: