West Seattle, Washington
Just in from the West Seattle Water Taxi:
This coming Saturday, Oct. 20 and Sunday, Oct. 21, construction will take place on the south side of Pier 52 between the Water Taxi’s temporary facility and the Colman Dock Terminal. A large construction barge, a.k.a., the “Pacific Lifter,” will be driving new piles into the ground. Riders who are in this vicinity may experience high levels of noise as a result of the work. For Water Taxi riders who need hearing protection while waiting for the West Seattle boat during these periods, our terminal agents can provide ear plugs upon request.
Side note: This is the second-to-last weekend before the Water Taxi goes weekdays-only until spring; that schedule starts Monday, October 29th.
The West Seattle Water Taxi crew’s rescue of a boater in August led to a special recognition event today. Here’s the official news release:
Pulling out of West Seattleâ€™s Seacrest Dock on August 30, the crew of the King County Water Taxi MV Doc Maynard saw a man in the water and immediately went into action to get him out of the water and onto their vessel.
During an afternoon sailing of the Doc Maynard to West Seattle today, Metropolitan King County Council Chair Joe McDermott recognized ship Captain Jeff Bearden and the crew of the Doc Maynard for their quick response to the water emergency.
â€śItâ€™s an honor to know Captain Bearden, Ms. Cook and Mr. McDougall. These are true professional public servants,â€ť said McDermott. â€śTheir skillful response to a dangerous situation should give confidence to everyone in King County that weâ€™re in excellent hands on this very important regional transit service.â€ť
When the man, who had fallen out of his boat, was spotted in the water, Captain Bearden steered the water taxi near his location and notified authorities of a person in distress. Deckhand Amanda Cook quickly threw the man a life jacket and prepared the equipment used for a man overboard. Deckhand Bob McDougall went into the water after getting into a rescue suit and helped the man out of Elliott Bay and onto the vessel.
â€śWhat impressed me most was the efficiency with which our crew responded to the man in the water and worked in unison to do as weâ€™d trained,â€ť said Capt. Bearden. â€śFrom the instant we first spotted him in the distance to the moment the paramedics were giving him a clean bill of health at the dock, only 15 minutes had elapsed and we were back on our way.â€ť
In support of the Orca Half(-marathon) this coming Sunday, Sept 23, the King County Water Taxi will offer an additional roundtrip to West Seattle departing Pier 52 in downtown Seattle at 7:30 AM. There will be an added return trip departing Seacrest Park at 8:00 AM.
The Orca Half – which will not involve road closures – starts at Lincoln Park, with shuttles from Don Armeni, where the run will finish.
Not many taxi rides come with an open-water rescue. Todayâ€™s West Seattle Water Taxi ride, on the other hand… pic.twitter.com/NM6KiStv6I
— Skip Tognetti (@togneter) August 31, 2018
10:24 PM: Thanks to Skip Tognetti for the video via Twitter – it confirms what tipster Kevin told us about this evening, a Water Taxi crew rescue just off Seacrest:
It appeared at about 6:05 pm a person fell out of a small Lund motorboat. Water Taxi pulled person out of water.
For all the times we’ve seen false-alarm “water rescue” callouts, there was no callout for this one, so we were unable to confirm at the time, but the video tells the tale.
ADDED 5 PM FRIDAY: Read more about it on the official Water Taxi blog-format website.
(From our first as-it-happened SPF30 report on 8/11/18, Carolyn Newman’s photo of the Water Taxi shuttle line at Seacrest)
Another SPF30 followup – the office of King County Executive Dow Constantine has sent this announcement that adding extra runs that day/night led to a ridership record:
King County Water Taxi set a single-day ridership record during Sub Pop Records’ 30th anniversary celebration on Alki Beach, working with event organizers to provide additional service for the biggest one-day event in West Seattleâ€™s history.
It is the latest milestone for King Countyâ€™s water taxi service, which set a monthly ridership record on its West Seattle route in July.
â€śThousands of people enjoyed a scenic trip to Alki Beach for a major celebration without having to fight traffic or search for parking,â€ť said King County Executive Dow Constantine. â€śOur successful collaboration with Sub Pop Records reflects our commitment to being nimble and responsive so we can deliver outstanding customer service.â€ť
The water taxi staff worked with event organizers to add a second vessel to the West Seattle route for the peak hours of the festival. Sub Pop encouraged attendees to take King Countyâ€™s water taxi and free shuttle to Alki Beach, reducing traffic congestion in the surrounding neighborhoods.
â€śIt would have been impossible to bring that many people to our festival without the help of the King County Water Taxi,â€ť said Sub Pop CEO Megan Jasper. â€śThey understood our needs and created a flexible and efficient plan for our region’s music fans. Many of these folks rode the Water Taxi for the first time, and weâ€™ve heard from many of them how enjoyable their commute was.â€ť
â€śMusic is one of those treasured experiences that brings people together,â€ť Jasper added. â€śThe Water Taxi is a local treasure. We are so grateful for the partnership and the experience they provided.”
More than 7,600 passengers sailed on King County’s water taxis on Aug. 11. Between 9 and 11:30 p.m., the MV Doc Maynard and the MV Sally Fox â€“ which can carry 278 passengers each â€“ carried more than 2,000 passengers from West Seattle to Pier 52.
The previous single-day ridership record was set in 2014 when 4,592 passengers sailed to and from the the Seattle Seahawks’ Super Bowl victory parade.
What the announcement doesn’t mention is how much Sub Pop paid to have a vessel added; we have asked that followup question. The record label added other forms of transportation to handle the crowd, too, including tour-bus-type shuttles from various West Seattle stops.
An alert just in for West Seattle Water Taxi riders:
The Water Taxi will be using the Spirit of Kingston, its smaller back-up vessel, on the West Seattle route through Wednesday. The Doc Maynard has been removed from service for vessel repairs. Riders are strongly encouraged to arrive early for their evening commute.
Some commenters expressed disappointment after we reported that the West Seattle Water Taxi wouldn’t offer extended service next Wednesday, August 8th, the first of two sold-out Pearl Jam concerts at Safeco Field. This afternoon, we’ve just received word from Water Taxi spokesperson Brent Champaco that there’s been a change of heart:
King County Water Taxi will offer extended evening sailings on the West Seattle route during the Pearl Jam concerts on Wednesday, Aug. 8 and Friday, Aug. 10 in Seattle.
We typically offer extended evening service for evening Mariners, Seahawks and Sounders FC home games during our summer schedule. However, given the number of West Seattle riders who are expected to attend the Pearl Jam concert, our standing principles to alleviate traffic congestion to support mobility for our residents warrants providing this additional service offering. King County Water Taxi will depart downtown Seattle at 8:30 p.m., 9:30 p.m. and 10:45 p.m.
And as we reported yesterday, he adds:
We would like to remind music fans that we are also working with Sub Pop Records to help fans get to and from their 30th anniversary celebration Saturday, Aug. 11 on Alki. In addition to the MV Doc Maynard running its regular Saturday service, we plan on running an extra boat (the MV Sally Fox) on the West Seattle route from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and again from 7:30 p.m.-11:30 p.m. These times are when we expect most people to be traveling to, and returning from, the event.
Just in case you hadn’t heard – this starts tomorrow, as announced by the King County Water Taxi:
The King County Water Taxi will operate the West Seattle route next Monday through Wednesday, July 23 – 25, using its smaller backup vessel, the Spirit of Kingston. The Doc Maynard will undergo preventative maintenance during this time. Riders are advised to arrive early for their evening commute as some sailings may sell out.
5:03 PM: The West Seattle and Vashon Water Taxi routes are both suspended right now because Colman Dock downtown has been evacuated. Via Twitter, Washington State Ferries explains why:
#BREAKING Colman Dock currently evacuated and closed due to a suspicious package. Weâ€™ll update here when there are more details. No injuries reported.
— Washington State Ferries (@wsferries) May 5, 2018
Updates to come.
5:20 PM: And from SPD:
We are currently assisting @wastatepatrol and @wsferries at Colman Dock. There has been a report of a suspicious package and our detectives are headed there to make sure the terminal is safe. Please expect extra traffic in the area. Thanks in advance for your patience.
— Seattle Police Dept. (@SeattlePD) May 5, 2018
If you need to head westward across the Sound, we do NOT advise trying Fauntleroy-Southworth as an alternate – it had a major Friday afternoon backup going even before this.
5:52 PM: Colman Dock is reopening, SPD just announced:
Detectives have determined that there is no risk to the public at @wsferries Colman Dock. The terminal will be reopening shortly. All traffic on Alaskan Way is now open. Thanks again for your continued patience. cc: @wastatepatrol
— Seattle Police Dept. (@SeattlePD) May 5, 2018
Now we’re just waiting for word on Water Taxi management about how/when service will resume.
6:27 PM: From KCDOT:
The Vashon and West Seattle Water Taxi routes are resuming service. The West Seattle route will resume service with the 6:25 sailing from Seacrest Dock and the Vashon route resumes service from Pier 52 at 6:30pm.
5:45 PM: No specifics have been announced for security concerns, but the Saudi Crown Prince is in the area this afternoon and Seattle Police say downtown traffic is about to be affected – temporary shutdowns for a motorcade route. So if you are, or have to go through, downtown, you might want to wait a bit. He arrived in Everett this afternoon after flying from New York.
6:35 PM: We don’t know if this is related, but we just got an alert that West Seattle Water Taxi runs are canceled between now and 7:30 pm, when service will resume with the run from Pier 52 downtown.
We just happened to be close enough to Seacrest to get that photo of the West Seattle Water Taxi arriving, shortly after King County sent out this reminder about the seasonal schedule change kicking in a week from Thursday (March 29th), as we first mentioned last month:
The new schedule includes sailings seven days a week between West Seattle and Pier 52 in downtown Seattle. The Water Taxi will also offer evening sailings on Fridays, Saturdays, and during Seattle Mariners, Sounders, and Seahawks night home games.
Sports fans can enjoy traffic-free travel to both the March 29 Mariners home opener at Safeco Field and the Sounders March 31 match at CenturyLink Field.
For an adult one-way fare of $5.75 ($5 with an ORCA card), passengers can enjoy a 15-minute ride across Elliott Bay with views (weather permitting) of the Seattle skyline, Mount Rainier, and Olympic Mountainsâ€”and avoid paying for parking in Seattle.
Added sailings on weekdays will mean boats leave every 30 minutes during peak commute hours and every hour in off-peak times.
The Water Taxi is accessible by transit. In West Seattle, riders can take free Metro shuttles to and from the Water Taxi landing at Seacrest Park. Route 773 serves the West Seattle Junction. Route 775 serves the Admiral District and Alki. Both also serve destinations offering dining, shopping, and other entertainment.
The Vashon Island Water Taxi schedule stays the same throughout the year (visit kingcounty.gov/watertaxi to learn more).
If you haven’t been on the WT in a while – remember that the downtown dock continues to be in its temporary location north of Colman Dock. (We’re checking on progress of the new dock.)
As noted this morning in our traffic/transit coverage, the smaller Spirit of Kingston is on the West Seattle Water Taxi run because the regular WS vessel Doc Maynard is filling in for Sally Fox on the Vashon run. We’ve confirmed with the King County Department of Transportation that Sally Fox is out TFN for repairs. From Marine Division director Paul Brodeur:
The AM maintenance crew reporting to work yesterday morning discovered a line had parted overnight on the Sally Fox. This caused the Sally Fox to slip back against a hard edge of the moorage and maintenance barge. As a result of this, the rub rail and deck edge near the passenger loading station was damaged. The vessel has been moved to a local shipyard for repairs. There is no estimate at this time as to how long repairs will take.
This follows Sunday’s windstorm; we have a followup question out about whether that’s what KCDOT thinks is to blame. Both Water Taxi runs are on five-day-a-week operation right now; the West Seattle run moves to its 7-day-a-week schedule on March 29th.
For adults paying with ORCA, the one-way fare will be $5 per rider on the West Seattle route and $5.75 per rider on the Vashon Island route.
Adults paying with cash will pay $5.75 for West Seattle and $6.75 for Vashon Island.
Seniors and riders with disabilities will pay $2.50 for West Seattle and $3 for Vashon Island, a 25-cent increase over current fares.
Youth ORCA users and ORCA LIFT riders will now pay $3.75 a ride for West Seattle (25 cents more per ride) and $4.50 (50 cents more per ride) for Vashon Island. Children 5 years old and under can still ride the Water Taxi for free. To view all fare changes scheduled for March 1, visit our website and choose a route.
The fare policy was established when the Water Taxi operated under the King County Ferry District and was then adopted by King County. Fare increases have taken place every two years since 2012. Fare revenue helps King County meet fare box recovery targets and keep pace with rising costs to deliver safe, reliable and efficient Water Taxi service.
The King County Water Taxi continues to grow in popularity, providing riders with a congestion-free commute into downtown Seattle. In 2017, the Water Taxi carried nearly 600,000 riders combined on the West Seattle and Vashon Island routes. These two routes combined for more than 13,300 annual trip segments with over a 99-percent reliability rating.
Two more Water Taxi notes: The 5-day-a-week winter schedule runs through the end of March; and as noted in our morning commute coverage, remember that the Water Taxi will not be in service next Monday (Presidents Day).
ADDED 2:54 PM: We confirmed with KCDOT’s Brent Champaco that the spring/summer Water Taxi schedule really is starting on a Thursday (March 29th), different from years past. He explains that the date was chosen because it’s the Mariners’ home opener.
Thanks to the person who texted about a delay in the West Seattle Water Taxi’s departure from downtown around 5 pm. We hadn’t found the reason until this alert just came in:
The West Seattle and Vashon routes of the Water Taxi could be delayed at least 10-15 minutes tonight as all route departures will use the north side of the Pier 52 dock. The Doc Maynard has been taken out of service due to mechanical issues. West Seattle will resume service with the 5:25 pm departure from Pier 52 on the Spirit of Kingston.
Ridership last month on both King County Water Taxi routes set September records, the county DOT says. The new numbers were published today, including:
The West Seattle route (had) 42,444 riders in September, up from 41,057 during the same month last year, representing a 3.4-percent increase.
Total year-to-date ridership is slightly down from last year’s record pace, the report adds, while noting various potential factors likely playing into that, including the five-day service interruption in August when the downtown dock was moved to its temporary location while its new permanent terminal is built. You can see a full month-by-month breakdown via the Data tab on this page of the Water Taxi website. October 29th, by the way, is the last day of this year’s seven-day-a-week schedule; you can preview the weekday-only winter schedule here.
What a way to start the day! Thanks to the King County Water Taxi‘s West Seattle crew for sharing that video – from the Doc Maynard, they saw orcas on this morning’s 6:15 and 6:35 am sailings, Frank Massaro tells WSB, adding that crew member Jade Farrar recorded the video during the latter.
With a Sunday night Sounders FC match, the West Seattle Water Taxi will be on its extended schedule all weekend, as announced tonight. And in case this weekend will be the first time you’ve taken the WSWT since its dock and schedule change – see the new schedule here; last trip from the new dock north of the state-ferry terminal tonight, Saturday, and this Sunday will be 10:45 pm.
The Water Taxi website says it’s official: “King County Water Taxi will resume service out of its temporary location at Pier 52 beginning Saturday, Aug. 12 for the West Seattle route, which will operate on a new sailing schedule. The Vashon Island route will resume service on its normal sailing schedule beginning Monday, Aug. 14.” Both routes have been out of service since Monday so that the dock could move from the south side of the main downtown ferry terminal to the north side (see map above). It’ll be there for about a year and a half while the new passenger-ferry terminal is built on the site of the old one.
As noted here, we asked the county for a Water Taxi update earlier today – how the move to the new temporary dock is going, and whether service might resume short of the “up to one week” that they said they’d need. Tonight, Water Taxi spokesperson Brent Champaco tells us that West Seattle service could resume as soon as Saturday – and that’s also just been published on the Water Taxi website. So – definitely no service tomorrow (Friday, August 11th), but the county will determine whether they’ll be ready to go on Saturday, which would be good because the Mariners and Sounders both play at home. (The Vashon Water Taxi would resume Monday, since it doesn’t run weekends anyway.) So watch for an update tomorrow.
6:39 AM: Welcome to a new week! No incidents in/from West Seattle so far.
NO WATER TAXI SERVICE: Today’s biggest alert – this is the first day of up to a week without King County Water Taxi service. Both the West Seattle and Vashon runs are on hiatus until the new temporary dock on the north side of the downtown ferry terminal is ready to go – as recapped in our reminder published last night.
PAVING REMINDER: Both Beach Drive near Andover and 63rd SW north of Admiral have paving projects in progress. At week’s end, SDOT said that the 63rd project would continue through tomorrow.
STATE FERRIES: The M/V Issaquah, which had mechanical trouble yesterday and left the Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth route for a while, is repaired and back in service, WSF says.
8 AM: WSF now reports fog delays of up to 20 minutes on the route.
One more reminder: The King County Water Taxi is out of service as of tomorrow (Monday, August 7th), for up to a week. That’s a shorter maximum duration than what was originally announced in June, when KCDOT first said a service interruption would be needed for the move to a temporary downtown dock to be used during the overhaul of the permanent site on the south side of Colman Dock. Then in June, a followup announcement included the start date for the interruption, plus the plan for it to last no more than a week. When service resumes, the Water Taxi and Kitsap Transit‘s foot ferries will be using the new temporary dock, which is under construction as of last Monday (WSB coverage here) on the north side of Colman Dock. The temp dock will be in use for about a year and a half, with a revised schedule (find it here), too.
That’s the first of nine piles, each up to 100 feet tall and 3 feet wide, that’ll be driven for the new temporary King County Water Taxi and Kitsap Transit foot-ferry dock on the north side of Washington State Ferries‘ main downtown terminal Colman Dock. The work is starting right now, and we’re at Colman Dock for a media briefing.
As reported here previously, the Water Taxi will suspend service for up to a week, starting next Monday (August 7th), so it can move operations to the temporary dock by the following Monday (August 14th). (Added: Here’s video of Water Taxi spokesperson Brent Champaco:)
The temporary dock is expected to be in use for up to a year and a half while the new passenger-only-ferry terminal is built on the south side of Colman Dock, in the same spot where the current one is. Colman Dock itself also will be renovated/rebuilt over the next five years.
In comments after previous reports, some have wondered why work is starting now, during the peak of summer; at today’s media briefing, it was reiterated that this is because today is the first day of the six-and-a-half month annual period to which in-water construction is limited, to protect salmon and other wildlife. If the full construction period isn’t utilized each year, the completion of the full Colman Dock project could be delayed. And here’s one reason why they need to get going – a section of an old piling with holes from gribbles:
So to recap: No Water Taxi for up to a week starting next Monday; once service resumes, the downtown dock will be in its new temporary location north of Colman Dock, by the waterfront fire station. (Side note: Kitsap Transit’s foot ferry is continuing service during the switch by using Pier 54, further north; Water Taxi reps explain their vessels are too big for that.) More photos/info to come.
The latest government service/agency/etc. asking for your feedback via an online survey – the King County Water Taxi. The new survey is phrased as if you are on board, so if you aren’t riding it today, you might consider answering from the standpoint of your most recent ride, or the reasons you usually use it, even if you only ride a few times a year. The survey starts here.
The WT website Captain’s Blog also provides two updates of potential interest to Water Taxi riders. The newest is about the soon-to-start Colman Dock overhaul that will result in a new foot-ferry terminal; read it here. It’s also a reminder that one week from Monday – starting August 7th – Water Taxi service will be interrupted for up to a week while its downtown terminal moves to an interim location north of Colman Dock.
The other notable update has some new numbers on Water Taxi ridership, including a 7.2 percent increase on the West Seattle run last month over the same period last year. But month-by-month numbers on the “data” tab of this WT-website page have not been updated since the end of last year.