(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:
(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.
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