2 things Water Taxi supporters need to know, now

wttuesday.jpgFirst one is a simple reminder: The Elliott Bay Water Taxi between West Seattle and downtown is in the final days of its extended 2007 season; after the afternoon/evening commute runs on Friday, it’s docked for the year. Second one, not quite so simple, but even more important:

A turning point is ahead for the newly created King County Ferry District, the agency (more about it here) that will eventually run not only the Water Taxi but also passenger ferries between Vashon and downtown Seattle, and potentially other routes. At 2 pm November 8th, one week from this Thursday, Water Taxi supporters are urged to turn out for a public hearing at the King County Courthouse about the Ferry District’s proposed operating plan — a final draft will be out shortly — and how much should be spent to fund it.

You would think the Water Taxi would be guaranteed a bold, bright future, given what kind of year it’s had — wtcrowd.jpgaccording to the office of West Seattle’s King County Councilmember Dow Constantine (who sits on the Ferry District board along with his council colleagues), ridership already had passed last year’s total of 122,000 by the end of August (no surprise with days like the one at left, at the start of the August I-5 construction), and should finish the year past 150,000. But that ridership isn’t the only support that County Council/Ferry District Board members will be looking to evaluate – they want to hear directly from the public on November 8th about factors such as:
-Their confidence in the Water Taxi as a commuting option
-The importance of having that option, especially when West Seattle faces the future traffic challenges of Alaskan Way Viaduct dismantling/replacement (whatever replaces it) construction
-The benefits of less auto traffic on the roads of West Seattle (and Vashon; remember the Vashon-Seattle passenger run lessens pressure on the Fauntleroy-Vashon-Seattle state route that pumps so much traffic through WS)
-Support for better utilizing our waterways as commuter pathways – even when we’re out of room/money for roads, there’s plenty of water!

As Councilmember Constantine tells WSB: “Over the past ten years, the Elliott Bay Water Taxi has become an important part of the transportation solution for West Seattle commuters. As we face imminent construction in the viaduct corridor, it is crucial that we preserve and improve the Water Taxi as a commuting option. The public hearing on the King County Ferry District on November 8 is our best chance to express how important the Water Taxi and Vashon passenger ferry are to West Seattle and the potential to build again a Mosquito Fleet of boats to serve our region again.”

Once that November 8th hearing is in the books to take the pulse of support for commuting by water, a $ decision must be made by November 30th. Keep in mind, this isn’t just about the run itself, but also about other future factors to make the service viable, including a better terminal, and better boats. (Find out more about the Water Taxi’s banner year and future possibilities in our previous coverage, archived below this post in the WSB Elliott Bay Water Taxi category.) 8:30 AM ADDENDUM: If you absolutely have no way to be there in person, Councilmember Constantine says you can provide “written testimony” in support of the Water Taxi and the King County Ferry District’s other plans through an online form set up for citizen comments on the general county budget process (find it here; within a day or so you should find a link on the Ferry District page too). If you would rather send something via postal mail, the address is: King County Ferry District, 516 Third Ave., Room 1200, Seattle, WA 98104. (But maximum impact is made by those who speak in person, so if you have any way to be there, please do.)


12 Replies to "2 things Water Taxi supporters need to know, now"

  • k October 30, 2007 (7:31 am)

    if we cannot attend the meeting, is there a place we can write about our support for the water taxi or anything else we can do?

  • Venkat October 30, 2007 (7:49 am)

    Thanks for carrying the flag on this (and other similar issues).

  • WSB October 30, 2007 (8:25 am)

    Venkat – We have to in turn thank Councilmember Constantine and his team for being very responsive in dealing with WSB (it has taken a while for some public agencies/officials to “get” that we are a legitimate media organization with credible coverage and thousands of daily readers/discussion participants, but they “got it” early on). K — Illustrating that point, we sent that same followup question to Dow C’s team a few hours ago, and we see the answer has already arrived; will add it to the post in a few minutes.

  • old timer October 30, 2007 (8:44 am)

    I don’t commute any more but, I still have many occasions to go downtown.
    I’ve always thought that ferry service to town was a great idea, so I’ve tried to use the water taxi on some of my trips.
    Unless I’m doing something really wrong, I’ve found it’s very time consuming to use the taxi from Fauntleroy, Gatewood, High Point, or Westwood,
    A bus is necessary to get to the shuttle stop, so that’s two bus trips, one of which, the shuttle, is unscheduled. So right there, an awful lot of ‘slack time’ is necessary to make connections.
    The water taxi ride itself is just wonderful, and it leaves you right in town with good connections to free ride busses.
    I think that for the water taxi to do meaningful work, the feeder bus connection must be smoother, more frequent, and less time consuming. Maybe a new shuttle service that serves the entire West Seattle peninsula could be established. This would have a side benefit of reducing auto traffic within West Seattle.
    With a good feed, I think the ferry would be a great help with not only the commuter problems, but with our ever increasing costs of fuel and driving.

  • s October 30, 2007 (9:46 am)

    I’ll second old timer. The thing that makes the water taxi impractical for me is the time it takes to get to the water taxi. Parking is too limited and shuttles don’t pick up where I live. So the new water taxi should have tons of parking (already in the plans) and, for those who don’t want to drive, a great shuttle system with scheduled, reliable pickup times.

  • marty October 30, 2007 (10:18 am)

    Many people overlook the value of the water taxi to tourism. Most see it as a way to get from West Seattle to Seattle. I live on Alki ave. and see dozens of people from out of town who take the water taxi from the Seattle waterfront to Alki. This is especially true when cruise ships are in town. I’m sure many Alki area business owners appreciate the increased opportunities!

  • SA October 30, 2007 (10:35 am)

    I’ve never taken the water taxi but have often thought about it. I took the opportunity to look at the shuttle schedule for the Junction (http://transit.metrokc.gov/tops/bus/schedules/s773_0_.html) and it looks like it doesn’t even begin its route until after the first taxi has left. I also noticed there are only 4-5 minutes between the drop-off at Seacrest and the taxi’s scheduled departure. For anyone that’s taken the shuttle from the Junction is this tight schedule a concern?

  • Chris Arkills October 30, 2007 (11:47 am)

    Hi–I am a legislative aide in Councilmember Dow Constantine’s office. I want to assure everyone that we share your concerns about shuttle service. For the past ten years the Water Taxi has been funded as a demonstration service with limited revenues. This has limited what we can do in terms of shuttle service.

    One of the main advantages of establishing a King County Ferry District will be to bring operations in to King County’s Department of Transportation. This should improve our ability to better coordinate bus connections and improved shuttle service to the Water Taxi.

    As for the current shuttle service, the boat is instructed to wait as long as possible for the shuttle to arrive. Shuttles meeting the boat are also instructed to wait until the boat arrives if it is running late. We will continue to work on improving the system in future years.

    Our office should receive the proposed plan this Thursday, Nov. 1. At that time we will make sure it is available for public comment and review. Thank you all for your support of this vital transportation link for West Seattle.

  • Erik October 30, 2007 (12:02 pm)

    The couple dozen times I’ve ridden the water taxi I’ve noticed the shuttles and the water taxi do wait for each other if they’re off schedule a bit. I’ve shared the shuttle ride home with many an out-of-towner (sometimes there are groups of tourists that come over to check out the beach) that was curious about Alki.

  • SA October 30, 2007 (12:18 pm)

    Thanks Chris and Erik!

  • westseattleite October 30, 2007 (3:09 pm)

    I have to agree with the above comments. I would love a ferry, but not as it is now. It takes me a good hour between walking to the Junction to get a shuttle, getting to the ferry, and then taking it across vs. my 20 to 30 minute commute via bus. If I could park down by Seacrest it would be a much more viable option.

  • dq October 30, 2007 (3:26 pm)

    i think the comments listed so far really do cover the main concern (shuttles/buses to the water taxi) and i hope that Chris Arkills will include these posts as comments for the meeting next week. i also believe that marty’s comment makes a really good point and am curious if there is any movement to get the business community involved? (i would assume so, based on the banners advertising West Seattle businesses on the taxi, but you know what they say about assuming…)

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