King County Water Taxi season-kickoff party updates

ORIGINAL 12:20 PM REPORT: Huge crowd here at Seacrest for the season-kickoff party celebrating the return of the King County Water Taxi (which actually started its 2009 runs a few hours ago, as shown in our earlier coverage). King County Council Chair Dow Constantine – who’s got a touch of laryngitis – is speaking right now, joking that when they decided to start the season a month earlier, they figured the weather would be bad. Guess what!

That’s the big crowd on board as the KCWT left a few minutes ago. Free rides all day – lines are long – parking’s tough (“a nightmare,” one man complained into his cell phone as he walked by) – so take the free shuttle bus. (As Constantine is mentioning right now, the shuttles now have distinct numbers so you can tell which shuttle is going where – a point of confusion in years gone by, whether the bus was going to Alki or The Junction.) Free treats and live music down here, too, in addition to the free sunshine.

ADDED 1:12 PM: More from the party – here’s the fireboat putting on a show a few minutes ago:

Also just had a Coast Guard chopper flyby, though maybe just a coincidence:

And some video – County Council Chair Constantine with the weather remark we mentioned above:

Plus a photo from Constantine’s Twitter stream, as he walked down to get on board:

2:52 PM UPDATE: Party’s over, more photos to add – first, at the other side of Constantine’s round trip, he chatted with other riders as they disembarked:

Yet another megaline awaited the next sailing, with a reminder in the foreground that Seacrest is also home to Alki Kayak Tours:

At the head of the line, bottom of the steel ramp that meets the wooden floating dock, a feathered greeter:

Besides the rebranded Water Taxi and shuttle buses, you’ll see the new sign at Seacrest too:

The free rides continue till the last run of the night, which is at 7 pm; here’s the schedule. Then the weekday schedule kicks in tomorrow (and the weather is expected to be spectacular – we’re glad to hear it, since we have a couple stories to cover downtown in the morning – no need to take the car!).

4:18 PM: Last addition, a clip of the fireboat’s spray show:

And dozens more photos of today’s event are up on the Ferry District’s Flickr pages, here.

10 Replies to "King County Water Taxi season-kickoff party updates"

  • Jim Clark April 5, 2009 (3:13 pm)

    I wonder how much County budget money this little party cost. Seems like it was more of a campaign party for a certain concil member who just happens to be running for KC Executive. Can’t we just start the service without all the fanfare?


  • jd April 5, 2009 (4:49 pm)

    Oh, for heaven’s sake. We’ve had this little fanfare every year. It has nothing to do with anyone running for King County Executive.

  • cleat April 5, 2009 (5:01 pm)

    It seems like a popular event…. I was just over there about 4:30 …. managed to miss any big doins they had… but still a big long line to get on … and people running to see if they could make it as the boat was about to cast off… Great weather for it!!!

  • Diane April 5, 2009 (5:35 pm)

    many (hundreds) of us were thrilled to have this party kick off for our beloved water taxi, and spring, sun; out and about to meet others in our community; the best music; this was an awesome event; perfect weather; so nice out, and fun, it was hard to leave
    yeh, there were lots of media and officials, but you know what? Dow has really earned this one, in saving, promoting, and growing our water taxi

  • alki_2008 April 5, 2009 (7:01 pm)

    Seems like all the “fanfare” was about marketing the water taxi, and not as much about Dow. Getting more people excited about the taxi might increase the interest in people using it…and with the new shuttle set-up, this might increase people coming over from downtown to visit Junction and/or Alki businesses.

  • chas redmond April 5, 2009 (8:45 pm)

    Actually, I think an awesome time was had by all. I certainly had a great time there – saw lots of people I knew and a huge number of them arrived by bus. However, the buses were stuck in incredible car traffic. Not any different, though, than any other bright, sunny day on Alki for the “just sitting here” feeling. I think it took us 25 minutes to get from Seacrest to Avalon – bikes, boards and blades were certainly the faster conveyance.

  • del April 5, 2009 (9:47 pm)

    So, how much is this pork costing us at a time when we are so short of money? Who decided we can afford this West Seattle gift? The fares absolutely must be high enough to cover the cost.

  • soosan April 5, 2009 (9:59 pm)

    I love that friendly one-footed seagull who’s always there at the water-taxi dock (and who appears as “the greeter” in your photos). Glad to see it made it through the winter. Can’t wait to see him tomorrow!

  • westwood April 5, 2009 (10:54 pm)

    They have had this modest event for years. It has always been a great community gathering to open the season. I think it an important part of any marketing plan to start a seasonal service like this with a splash, so to speak. The Water Taxi gets better farebox return than most Metro buses.

    When the Water Taxi goes year-round next year the boat will become more of a daily option that is part of West Seattleites options for work or play. Until then we need to let people know it has started. And it was a great day for that!

  • Karl April 6, 2009 (11:56 am)

    I took the gratis quasi ferry from Seacrest to pier 55 (Red Robin) at 11:00 am yesterday. The purpose was to compare the commute time against taking the standard one bus to downtown.

    I took the free shuttle (773) from California Ave SW & SW Admiral Way (Chevron) at 10:40 am. I was the the sixth passenger. Two disembarked on 63rd Ave SW and SW Alki Ave and the remaining four arrived at a full Seacrest parking lot and navigated around the neoprene clad users of the park.

    The Argosy boat was clean and the staff was youthful and polished. The informal seating had four portable tables and all the seating was rows of basic stackable chairs. The galley was open with coffee, chips, pepperoni ropes, and other snack items.

    The overhead broadcast welcomed us aboard and explained that the crossing time was a suggestion not a fixed rate, “but at least it is a free trip!” What was left out was what to do in an emergency. There were thirty adult PFDs visibly stowed above in the second deck support beams.

    Many folks went to the open air second deck to take in the view on a nice crisp spring day. Both Mt. Baker and Mt. Rainier were visible. After a few minutes most retreated to the warmer sheltered first deck.

    We arrived fifteen minutes later at Pier 55 to an area bustling with tourists eager to enjoy the Argosy Cruise Line harbor tours.

    The Seneca Street stairwell to First Avenue was accessible by crossing Alakan Way, railroad tracks, Western Avenue, and Post Avenue. Instead I considered taking a bus. I looked for a Metro assistant or signage directing me to a shuttle or nearest transit stop. Finding none, I accessed Google maps transit from my Blackberry. I walked down to Marion Street (Colman Dock) and waited for the 16 to depart at 11:37 am.

    Our goal was 6th Avenue and Union Street. The 16 makes “skip stops” on Third avenue. We arrived at Third Avenue and Seneca Street in eight minutes. Walked up Seneca Street and made a left on 6th Avenue. Arrived at destination at 11:55 am.

    Total travel time was 75 minutes.

    Conclusion: stick with current commute plan of the 55, or the 56, or the 57 of the normal commute time of 26 (56X) to 37 (55) minutes.

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