First 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 — according 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.)