Our post about the start date for this year’s Elliott Bay Water Taxi season brought lots of questions — we took them to County Councilmember Dow Constantine’s office, which has graciously provided lots of answers. His staff’s entire, info-laden reply, after the click:
The Water Taxi will start service on Sunday, April 29th as you announced. On Opening Day there will be a public celebration midday. The exact hours, entertainment, food, and speakers are still being planned and I will be able to share more details soon. I did hear yesterday that the beloved Husky Deli has already agreed to provide free ice cream! This is a great family event featuring music, kids’ events, and speakers including Dow Constantine. Best of all, the Water Taxi is free to use the entire day so you can use it to go to the Mariners game that day against Kansas City at 1:05.
Most people can expect the Water Taxi to operate a similar schedule this year. The schedule will be roughly the same as in previous years. There will still be two shuttles meeting each boat. One will loop around Alki and Admiral, the other to 35th and Avalon and on up to the Junction. In past years the shuttle schedules have been somewhat confusing, so we have asked Metro to work on improving that. As a West Seattle resident who lives in the south end, I understand the desire to extend the shuttles further south. But as in most cases it comes down to money. More on that in a bit.
The fares and boats used by Argosy will stay the same; this year the City of Seattle has agreed to let the shuttles come directly into the Seacrest lot to allow for better connections with the boat.
The Water Taxi has been a “demonstration” project for the last nine years. Each year it has been a battle with suburban interests to continue to obtain the funding for the boat without taking it out of Seattle bus service. So, Councilmember Constantine will be taking several steps this year to make the Water Taxi permanent, year-round, and a better commuter option.
First, we will be introducing legislation soon to establish a King County Ferry District. The state is getting out of the passenger ferry business and has granted the county the ability to establish a Ferry District and levy a countywide property tax. For about $10 annually on a $500,000 house, we believe we can keep the Vashon passenger ferry, make the Water Taxi year-round, and experiment with other promising waterborne transit routes like Kirkland to the UW.
For the short term, King County will probably continue to subcontract with Argosy, but the goal is to purchase or lease newer, better boats within a few years and also to do major dock improvements. Secondly, we are working in the state legislature to allow the Ferry District to also fund shuttle services as part of their operations. This should allow us to expand and improve shuttle service in the future since we won’t be competing with other bus routes.
Finally, we are working with the State of Washington to obtain mitigation funding in the coming years for viaduct related construction. The state, city and county all agree that the Water Taxi will be an important part of keeping West Seattle moving in the coming years.
Thank you to everyone for your support and passion in supporting the Water Taxi. Dow will be working hard in the coming year to make it an even better part of living in West Seattle.