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:
(Rendering of new vessels – reflecting size/shape/configuration, not final color/paint/trim)
Instead of the Spirit of Kingston, when the new West Seattle Water Taxi arrives next year, you’ll be riding the Doc Maynard. Just announced by King County Councilmember Joe McDermott, who chairs the county Ferry District Board:
After this summer’s public process, the King County Ferry District’s new boats have been named. Doc Maynard will serve the West Seattle run, and Sally Fox will bring riders from Vashon Island to Downtown Seattle.
“I want to thank everyone who got involved whether it was nominating names or voting for their favorites. The names reflect our community’s awesome history,” said Ferry District Chair Joe McDermott.
Doc Maynard was a Seattle pioneer and doctor.
(Added: Public-domain image of Doc Maynard, via Wikimedia)
As one of the primary founders of Seattle, Maynard’s friendship with Chief Sealth inspired him to propose the name of the city be named after his Duwamish friend.
Sally Fox fought tirelessly as a passionate advocate for passenger-only ferry service to Vashon. She organized the community and fought at the forefront of the movement to protect and expand this valuable service. Fox passed away in 2007 from esophageal cancer, but her spirit lives on through the results of her activism.
While Cobain Watertrain was a popular vote for the West Seattle run, it was determined there was too much licensing risk involved.
Mostly funded by federal grants, the new boats will start operating in 2015.
We’re asking about the actual numbers and will add whatever we find out.
P.S. Here’s Doc Maynard’s biography, via HistoryLink.org.
ADDED 3:51 PM: Thanks to Councilmember McDermott’s office for the top three voting results for each vessel – first, West Seattle, then, Vashon:
Doc Maynard- 22.75%
Princess Angeline- 18.74%
Sally Fox- 38.46%
Betty MacDonald – 29.29%
(Mid-August Seacrest panorama by Robert Spears)
Recordsetting month for the West Seattle Water Taxi, and it’s not over yet. Just shared by County Councilmember Joe McDermott, who is also chair of the Ferry District Board, which oversees West Seattle and Vashon Water Taxi operations, an announcement sent by Marine Division shoreside operations/customer-service manager Greg Lerner:
I wanted to let you know that today, on the 10:30 am sailing, our 50,000th rider for the month of August boarded our West Seattle boat, setting a new all-time record for the route. From a person who spent 10 years working with the West Seattle route at Argosy thinking we were doing well, I’m particularly proud of all of you for taking this route to the next level!
You can see month-by-month ridership for the past year and a half by going here and clicking the “West Seattle ridership” line to open it – last year’s biggest month was July, with 47,588. This year’s July ridership isn’t posted yet but June was the biggest month of the year posted to date, with 32,484.
P.S. The West Seattle Water Taxi will be in service on Labor Day, but using the Sunday schedule.
Name the new Water Taxis, round two: Vote on your favorites from 11 finalists – 6 for West Seattle, 5 for VashonJuly 25, 2014 at 11:03 am | In King County Water Taxi, West Seattle news | 14 Comments
(Rendering of new vessels – reflecting size/shape/configuration, not final color/paint/trim)
Four weeks after the King County Ferry District invited you to suggest names for the new Water Taxi vessels that are under construction, here comes Round 2 – your chance to choose between 11 finalists. Just out of the WSB inbox:
The process to name the King County Ferry District’s new vessels continues with public voting starting (today) and running through August 15, 2014. To vote, see surveymonkey.com/s/TTPBNZQ or call 206-477-3840.
“The public’s participation in this process has been incredible – we have received 326 different name nominations. People in this region really value this service,” said King County Ferry District Chair Joe McDermott.
(Rendering of new vessels – reflecting size/shape/configuration, not final color/paint/trim)
Just in from the King County Ferry District:
The King County Ferry District wants King County residents to help name the two new water taxis that will serve West Seattle and Vashon Island.
“This is a great opportunity to display your creativity and highlight your favorite part of our region,” said Joe McDermott, who chairs the King County Ferry District. “Anyone can submit name suggestions, so spread the word to your kids, friends, families and neighbors!”
The naming contest starts today. Individuals can submit their ideas at www.surveymonkey.com/s/2JNBGG2 or by calling 206-477-3840. Suggestions will be taken until Friday, July 18, 2014. The King County Ferry District will then narrow the names down before putting the final public vote forward to the public at the end of July.
To be considered for the final vote, names must contain regional relevancy, must not exceed two words nor have any inappropriate language. A boat’s name is said to reflect its personality, so the name should be in good taste. While this will not disqualify a name suggestion, it should be noted that maritime folklore says it is unlucky for the boat to be named after a living person who intends to ride the boat in their lifetime.
The new vessels are primarily funded through federal grants and are being designed and built by All American Marine in Bellingham. The new vessels will start serving riders next year …
(Artist rendering of new vessels’ basic design)
The boats are scheduled to be delivered next year, as reported here last December, with federal money covering 80 percent of their $11.8 million cost.
If you catch the West Seattle Water Taxi back home by walking to the downtown dock via Yesler Way – as we’ve done a few times while working at the courthouse this month – you’ll need to detour north to Columbia, starting today: The county just announced that the city’s seawall work is closing the Yesler/Alaskan Way crossing TFN.
4:30 PM: Just in from King County via text – the West Seattle Water Taxi will NOT run for the rest of the afternoon/evening because the Spirit of Kingston has a mechanical problem.
9:41 PM UPDATE: It’ll be back to normal Tuesday morning, the county says.
For the West Seattle route, that’s 75 cents more if you pay cash, 50 cents more pre-paid, 25 cents more for seniors/disabled people and youth 6-18 (prepaid). Kids 5 and under remain free. The Ferry District’s announcement also says West Seattle Water Taxi ridership for last year was up almost 3 percent over the year before.
ADDED: It should be noted that since the Water Taxi doesn’t run on weekends during the winter, the fares technically go up Monday (March 3rd).
Another set of Seahawks Super Bowl victory-related numbers is in – the numbers from the special West Seattle Water Taxi schedule on Wednesday to help people get to and from the historic parade/celebration downtown (more photos in our Wednesday morning coverage).
On Wednesday, February 5, the King County Water Taxi transported a record number of passengers for both its Vashon and West Seattle routes to view the Seahawks Championship Parade. The Vashon route, running its regularly scheduled service, carried 928 passengers. The West Seattle route, aided by an announcement by King County Ferry District Chair Joe McDermott to the West Seattle Blog the previous afternoon that we would provide midday additional service for the event, carried 4,587 passengers for the day. Chair McDermott also proclaimed that the Spirit of Kingston would be known as the M/V Steven Hauschka for the day in honor of the Seahawks placekicker.
Breaking it down – 2,289 passengers total on the West Seattle Water Taxi’s a.m. sailings, 2,298 on the p.m. sailings, adding up to that 4,587 total (with an added boat in the morning, once M/V Melissa Ann finished its a.m. Vashon route sailings).
Last time we remember lines like these was for the famous “Viadoom” Highway 99 closures – but the county also says this BEAT that, big time:
Forgot about Viadoom already? That was the multi-day October 2011 closure for the start of Alaskan Way Viaduct demolition. And remember, whenever the Highway 99 tunnel-digging gets going again, we’re facing a multi-day closure when the machine gets directly beneath what’s left of the elevated Viaduct, so stay tuned.
(UPDATED 1:30 PM: Special sailing, shuttle schedules for Wednesday, added)
(WSB file photo)
11:04 AM: Just got word from King County Councilmember Joe McDermott – the West Seattle Water Taxi WILL have midday runs tomorrow for Seahawks Victory Parade goers. Full schedule will be out shortly (the first and last run times of the day won’t change – what WILL change is that it will run all day, including the period when it’s idle in the winter, 9 am-3:30 pm). And shuttle bus schedules WILL match the runs.
Bonus – remember the WSB commenters who suggested that the Water Taxi be honorarily renamed after kicker Steven Hauschka since he wasn’t included in the Washington State Ferries‘ honorary renames? Councilmember McDermott says that will happen for tomorrow, especially appropriate since Hauschka scored (early) offensive points on Sunday. (Poster image from King County added 5:54 pm)
12:19 PM UPDATE: Here’s the special Wednesday-ONLY sailing schedule as a PDF – this image is from that document:
Shuttle-bus schedule still being finalized, we’re told; we’ll add it when it’s available. (And if you’re thinking about driving to the dock, see our note from last night about free parking at Salty’s on Alki [WSB sponsor].)
1:30 PM UPDATE: Here’s a PDF of the special Wednesday shuttle-bus schedule (with the sailing schedule alongside):
See you at the dock!
New King County Water Taxi boats to be built by All American Marine, but delivered later than originally hopedDecember 23, 2013 at 4:15 pm | In King County Water Taxi, Transportation, West Seattle news | 11 Comments
(Artist rendering of new vessels’ design)
The King County Ferry District has just announced the shipbuilder chosen for the two new Water Taxi vessels: All American Marine, based in Bellingham. We’ve been reporting on the plans to have two new vessels built; the expected $11.8 million cost of designing and building them, the county says, will be 80 percent footed by the Federal Transit Administration. Each boat will be able to carry up to 250 passengers, more than Rachel Marie and Melissa Ann, leased three years ago, and more than the district-owned Spirit of Kingston, taken over last year, which will stay with the fleet. The new boats also will have wider doors for faster boarding and more bicycle capacity – 26 per boat, up from 18 now. Construction is expected to start in early 2014, with the first vessel delivered by mid-2015, the second one by the end of 2015 – that’s another delay beyond what the county told us about back in August, when the scheduled had slipped to late 2014 for the first boat. The budget also had to be increased earlier this year when no “responsive” bid came in to meet the original $11.1 million budget.
P.S. Speaking of the Water Taxi – neither route runs on Christmas Day.
One more reminder tonight from King County – the West Seattle Water Taxi starts its winter schedule on Monday, which means the next two days will bring its final weekend runs until spring. The winter schedule runs Mondays-Fridays, morning and afternoon/evening commute time periods only, with the first run from West Seattle to downtown at 6 am, and the last run back from downtown to West Seattle at 7 pm. See the full schedule here.
At its October meeting, the Alki Community Council became the second neighborhood council in two nights to go on the record as officially supporting the West Seattle Transportation Coalition. And one mode of transportation was high on the list of the night’s other hot topics:
WEST SEATTLE WATER TAXI: Michelle Allison from King County Councilmember Joe McDermott‘s office visited by request of ACC leadership. She says the 2014 work plan for the Ferry District Board (which McDermott chairs) includes an analysis of the shuttle routes serving the Water Taxi to see if they can be improved and/or restructured in hopes of boosting WT ridership. “That’s something we’re really going to engage the community on … we need to know if we’re losing people because it’s not operating the way it should. What can we do to change it to have you guys use the Water Taxi?” They’ve done some analysis so far and note that people are using it on weekdays to get home FROM Seacrest, but not necessarily for getting TO Seacrest. 63rd/Alki and Admiral/California are hot spots for where people are getting off the shuttle, she notes.
They might ask for opinions on possible alternate routes that could better serve people trying to use the Water Taxi – look for questions like that, “what neighborhood do you live in and would you use the Water Taxi if the shuttle came there?” She also pointed out that the Water Taxi system is not part of Metro. And they also will look at the current “no charge” operation of the shuttle. “The board is really going to wrestle with that,” Allison said (the board is the County Council under another name).
Later, the group discussed formally letting their representatives know that they want Metro and the Water Taxi shuttle to work together.
Speaking of transportation:
Sunday traffic/transit: West Seattle Car Show road closure, bus changes; Water Taxi extension for Seahawks gameSeptember 15, 2013 at 5:31 am | In King County Water Taxi, Transportation, West Seattle news, West Seattle traffic alerts | Comments Off
Two alerts to share today:
WEST SEATTLE CAR SHOW: Above, that’s a “live” (refresh this page for the newest image) view of the heart of The Junction, where California SW is scheduled to be closed between Genesee and Edmunds 6 am-~6 pm today for the West Seattle Car Show (show hours are 8 am-4 pm). This also means some Metro Transit reroutes – click each route listed below to see the Metro PDF with route-specific information:
WEST SEATTLE WATER TAXI: Yes, it WILL run an extended schedule for tonight’s Seahawks-49ers game. See that schedule here.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
With periodic boat breakdowns continuing to affect King County Water Taxi service, it would seem the two brand-new 250-passenger boats the county plans to build can’t be ready soon enough.
They won’t be ready as soon as hoped for, though – the county has to send the project out to bid a second time, and plans to add to the budget.
PM commute notes: West Seattle Water Taxi service canceled for tonight, back tomorrow; downtown buses, roads back to normalAugust 12, 2013 at 4:59 pm | In King County Water Taxi, Transportation, West Seattle news | 5 Comments
(UPDATED 8:48 PM with Water Taxi returning Tuesday)
Two PM commute notes:
WEST SEATTLE WATER TAXI: King County has just sent word that the West Seattle Water Taxi is canceled for tonight because of mechanical trouble. (Backup boat Rachel Marie had already been pressed into service on the Vashon run.) **Update – The West Seattle run WILL be back tomorrow, the county says (8:48 pm), using Melissa Ann.**
BUSES, ROADS BACK TO NORMAL DOWNTOWN: In case you missed the updates in our separate coverage of the shooting aftermath downtown – bus service is back to normal and all roads have reopened, according to Metro, SPD, and SDOT.
(WSB photo from April 23)
Exactly two months after news that King County would take possession of the Spirit of Kingston and put it on the West Seattle Water Taxi run – the change is about to happen. We just got word from the office of King County Councilmember Joe McDermott that Spirit of Kingston will take over the run starting tomorrow (Saturday), which means that, after three years, 25-year-old Rachel Marie will become a backup boat. Kingston got the 7-year-old SoK through federal grants but scrapped its foot-ferry service and would have had to pay the grants back if this transfer – which brings the boat here almost for free, as explained in our November report – hadn’t happened. More to come.
ADDED 1:39 PM: The county’s official announcement has just arrived via e-mail – read on:
4:38 PM: Just announced: King County is canceling the West Seattle Water Taxi route for the rest of the night. No formal word yet on the problem, but about 10 minutes before the announcement, Maggie had noted via Twitter that Rachel Marie hadn’t sailed at 4:15 pm and had some mechanical work going on. We’re checking to see if there’s any word yet about the likelihood of service resuming tomorrow morning. After multiple breakdowns, Rachel Marie is to be replaced soon by the newly acquired Spirit of Kingston, but last word from the county was that it wouldn’t happen before mid-May, because they had to finish training, followed by “regulatory inspections.”
6:07 PM: And – Rachel Marie has returned to service, leaving downtown a short time ago, the county has now announced.
This is our closest look yet at Spirit of Kingston, the future West Seattle Water Taxi vessel, since the King County Marine Division took possession last month – it’s been parked behind a fence at the county’s also-new maintenance barge while crews have been in training, but today we happened to be at Seacrest during one of its test runs. We’re checking with the county Department of Transportation to see if there’s an update on when it’ll be put into service to replace the older and breakdown-prone Rachel Marie.
Reminder that the West Seattle Water Taxi starts its spring/summer/fall schedule tomorrow, which means not only 7-day-a-week operation, but also the return of midday runs, since the winter schedule only handles the morning and afternoon commutes. You can see the new schedule here. But don’t expect to see the newly acquired vessel Spirit of Kingston tomorrow; county reps told WSB earlier this week that crew members are training and other work is under way before they put it into service to replace Rachel Marie (shown above in a WSB file photo).
(Tuesday photo by Don Brubeck)
The future West Seattle Water Taxi vessel Spirit of Kingston has been spotted out on at least one test run since arriving at its new home port last week. But while the King County Department of Transportation’s Marine Division was at one point expecting to launch it on the run when the 7-day-a-week schedule takes effect next week, we’re told it won’t happen quite so fast – according to KCDOT and the office of King County Councilmember Joe McDermott, who chairs the county Ferry District Board, they will delay the debut a while, possibly a few weeks, for training. The spring/summer/fall schedule still launches on Monday, though – and you can see it here.
The new West Seattle Water Taxi vessel Spirit of Kingston has arrived on the downtown waterfront and is docked alongside the county’s new maintenance barge. (We noticed it late Friday via MarineTraffic.com, though it’s now listed as “out of range.”) This is the only view we could get today, but you’ll surely see it out and about soon, since it’s scheduled to take over the West Seattle-downtown run by the time the 7-day-a-week schedule kicks in on Monday, April 8th. Spirit of Kingston’s capacity is slightly less than the run’s current vessel, Rachel Marie, but based on ridership averages, that won’t be an issue till the heart of summer, if then. The 8-year-old catamaran was originally purchased for its namesake town with the help of federal grants, and that’s why it could be transferred here basically for free, since Kingston cut its passenger-ferry service and didn’t need it any more. King County, meantime, will use federal grants to pay for two brand-new boats that will start construction soon.
(Photo courtesy King County Ferry Board chair Joe McDermott’s office)
One week ago, we reported on the King County Ferry Board’s Executive Committee agreeing to accept the Spirit of Kingston and the recommendation that it take over the West Seattle Water Taxi run once it arrives. This afternoon, the county announced the Ferry Board has finalized the deal, and the move should happen when 7-day-a-week service resumes in a few weeks:
The Spirit of Kingston, the 65-foot catamaran that once ferried passengers between Kingston and Seattle, is about to become part of the King County Ferry District’s fleet of water taxis. The District unanimously voted today to acquire the eight year-old vessel at no purchase cost through an agreement with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) – the agency that originally provided grant funding to the Port of Kingston to purchase the vessel.
More news from the King County Ferry District, including a followup on part of this morning’s report:
The Ferry District board chair, West Seattle’s County Councilmember Joe McDermott, shared the view from his office as the county’s new maintenance and moorage barge arrived from Tacoma – that’s it on the center-left side of the photo. It’s 40′ by 120′ and was built mostly in Portland, then towed to Tacoma for the final phase of work. It has a few more weeks of work to go, hooking up utilities and so on, before it’s ready for use.
This afternoon, the Ferry Board’s executive committee approved the letter we mentioned this morning, officially accepting the transfer of the Spirit of Kingston, no longer needed after a passenger run ended between Seattle and Kingston. It’s an 8-year-old, 65-foot catamaran that was at first proposed to be used as a Water Taxi backup, though, checking Ferry District meeting records, we note Marine Division staff recommended that it become the primary West Seattle vessel. (We’ll check on where that stands.)
The two older boats on the West Seattle and Vashon Water Taxi runs don’t have to hang on too much longer; the executive committee also was briefed this afternoon on the county’s plan to put out RFPs (requests for proposals) by month’s end for two new aluminum catamarans with capacity up to 250 passengers. An earlier step in the process drew qualified responses from Bellingham’s All American Marine and a team led by Seattle’s Kvichak Marine, according to the newest Water Taxi newsletter. If the process proceeds as planned, the first boat may be delivered in the third quarter of next year, with the second one a few months later. The current boats are leased, not owned.
(August 2011 photo of Spirit of Kingston at Seattle dock, by Oran Viriyincy, via Flickr)
Two notes this morning about the King County Ferry District, the agency responsible for the Water Taxi. First, its board’s Executive Committee meets this afternoon, and will consider a resolution to formalize and finalize bringing the Spirit of Kingston (backstory here and here) into the fleet as a virtually free backup.
Second – the Legislature is considering a bill, co-sponsored by local State Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, that would kill the Ferry District (as well as the county Flood Control District) and consolidate operations into the rest of county government. But that’s a good thing, local County Councilmember Joe McDermott tells WSB:
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