West Seattle, Washington
The King County Water Taxi‘s 1:00 pm run to downtown from Seacrest Park is running up to 20 minutes late, according to Metro: “Vessel Captain and crew had to switch vessels due to unexpected issue with a generator.” We’ll update if that leads to any additional problems later in the day.
No, the dogs aren’t unleashed, just the policy. A few canine companions of Metro employees joined King County Executive Dow Constantine at a brief Seacrest event this morning to spotlight the new policy allowing dogs (leashed) and cats (in carriers) aboard the King County Water Taxi. We mentioned the policy change on Tuesday. What about other pets? readers wondered, so we asked. Maybe down the road, Metro says. We also asked whether this really entailed more than just saying hey, guess what, you can bring your dog or cat aboard. Answer: Yes – it required U.S. Coast Guard approval, because of capacity limits. You can read the full KCWT pet policy (just one page long) here.
Side note – independent of the new policy, one dog had a backstory:
Jim is holding KC Metro, adopted after being found, abandoned, on board a Metro Route 36 bus.
While dogs and cats are allowed on Metro buses, they haven’t been allowed on the King County Water Taxi – until now. Metro has just announced the policy change to allow pets on board both the West Seattle and Vashon Island routes. The announcement says, “The new policy allowing cats (in carriers) and dogs (on a leash or in a carrier) is the result of the Water Taxi staff listening and responding to the needs of riders. A growing number of riders use the Water Taxi as an alternative to driving, but for some it only works if they can bring their pet for the trip.” King County Executive Dow Constantine plans to formally announce the change during a media event at Seacrest tomorrow.
1:44 PM: Metro says West Seattle and Vashon Water Taxi service should both return to regular schedules later today. You’ll recall that both M/V Sally Fox and M/V Doc Maynard were out of service for propeller problems, so M/V Spirit of Kingston was going to handle both routes – then windy weather canceled Vashon runs this morning. We asked about the plan for this afternoon/evening, and Metro spokesperson Al Sanders replied, “Water Taxi crew is on its way to pick up the Sally Fox for Vashon service tonight. We should be back to regular service on both routes.”
3:01 PM: That said, Metro has just announced one change in the transition: “3:00 PM Water Taxi departure from West Seattle canceled due to lack of crew. The Water Taxi will resume regular service beginning with the 3:25 departure from downtown Seattle.”
Just announced by King County Metro – “On Monday, both the MV Sally Fox and MV Doc Maynard damaged propellers during service. We are coordinating with shipyards to get these vessels repaired and returned to service ASAP. The backup vessel MV Spirit of Kingston will be operating on both routes.” That means service reductions for both the West Seattle and Vashon runs – the modified schedule is here.
Tomorrow was originally set as the end of spring/summer all-day, 7-day service for the West Seattle Water Taxi. Then, by community request, SDOT and King County Metro worked out a plan to keep it going through this winter since the West Seattle Bridge is still closed. There are a few changes to note, though, Water Taxi spokesperson Al Sanders tells WSB:
The extended Water Taxi service, with seven day a week service (M-F: 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.—Sat-Sun 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.), starts Saturday, October 16, with funding from the Seattle Department of Transportation. A reminder to bike riders – the vessels are now equipped with racks that can handle up to 26 “fat tire” and electric bikes.
Starting on Saturday, shuttle service to the Seacrest Dock (773/775) will be available only during peak-commuter hours Mon-Fri. (6:00 a.m.-9:00 a.m./3:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m.)
Metro plans to keep the regular full-size vessel M/V Doc Maynard on the route through fall and winter.
No West Seattle Water Taxi service this weekend, because of dock work. Here’s what Al Sanders at Metro tells WSB:
The Water Taxi dock at Seacrest Park is in need of maintenance and will be closed this weekend, October 9th and 10th. Operations from West Seattle will cease after the 11 pm sailing on Friday October 8th and will resume again on Monday October 11th with the 6:15 am sailing. The weekend work will be separating two of the floats, replacing the rubber cushions and the connecting wires between the floats.
4:03 PM: One day after the Spirit of Kingston took over the West Seattle Water Taxi run because the Doc Maynard needs repairs, it’s experiencing trouble. According to an alert from Metro, the Spirit of Kingston “has had some debris get lodged into one of its four jet engines. The vessel is still in service; however, we are expecting delays this evening.”
4:49 PM: We asked Water Taxi spokesperson Al Sanders for details on the “debris”; he says they suspect “it was a mooring line.”
The Spirit of Kingston is replacing Doc Maynard on the West Seattle Water Taxi run until further notice. After Metro sent that announcement this afternoon, we asked spokesperson Al Sanders why. He explains, “The Doc Maynard is going to the shipyard for repairs to the vessel’s propeller. The issue was discovered during the morning run and it was taken out of service.” The swap is notable since the Spirit of Kingston’s 149-passenger capacity is only about half that of Doc Maynard, but Metro says ridership has been averaging “well below” 149. Sanders says there’s no estimate yet how long Doc Maynard will be out of service.
According to an alert tonight from Metro, the West Seattle Water Taxi will start early both days this weekend because of the Orca Half half-marathon. The first runs of the morning on Saturday and Sunday this weekend will be 7:30 am from Pier 50 downtown and 8 am from Seacrest. Shuttles from Seacrest will start early too. This is in addition to the regular schedule, which you can see here. The Orca Half will be run both days between 7:30 am and 1 pm, on sidewalks and trails from Lincoln Park to Don Armeni Boat Ramp, as previewed here. (Water Taxi side note: New bike racks!)
12:42 PM: Speaking of the West Seattle Water Taxi, just announced at the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force meeting – it will stay on a 7-day-a-week schedule throughout the upcoming bridgeless winter after all. Until now, plans had been in place to switch the service back to a 5-day-a-week schedule in mid-October. The topic came up at last month’s CTF meeting; city reps said at the time that it would be costly. How costly? We asked Metro afterward; they said it would cost at least a million dollars. We’re still pursuing more specifics but apparently the city found the cash to pay the county to keep the 7-day-a-week service going through the winter.
1:32 PM: SDOT has since sent a news release that has this added information:
Thanks to SDOT funding, Water Taxi service this fall and winter will remain similar to the summer daytime schedule:
*Seven day a week service between Seacrest Park in West Seattle and Pier 50 downtown from approximately 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
*Ships will leave the dock every 35 minutes during weekday peak commute hours and every hour mid-day, evenings, and weekends.
*The expanded service will not include late night Friday and Saturday sailings after 7:00 p.m.
According to information we had previously obtained from Metro, the estimated cost of keeping the late-night sailings would have been about a third higher:
From the King County Water Taxi:
Maintenance is being completed on the Seacrest passenger boarding ramp, causing us to cancel the 1:00 pm departure from West Seattle. We hope to resume regularly scheduled service beginning with the 1:30 pm departure from downtown. We apologize for the inconvenience.
Twelve days after the crew of the West Seattle Water Taxi, M/V Doc Maynard, rescued two people after their sailboat capsized off Seacrest, they were recognized today for their heroism.
King County Council Vice Chair Joe McDermott and County Executive Dow Constantine presented a certificate of recognition today to Water Taxi crew members including, center L-R above, Deckhand GW Rogers, Captain Brad Johnson, and Deckhand Jay White. You can see the certificate here.
12:38 PM: Thanks to the texter who tipped us about what’s logged as a “marine service response” off Harbor/Alki Avenues. They report the West Seattle Water Taxi “rescued (a person) who had turtled his craft and couldn’t get it upright.” SFD sent fireboats. We’re following up.
12:42 PM: We’ve also heard from Karen, who was on the Water Taxi when this happened, and reports the rescue involved an “overturned sailboat off Duwamish Head,” adding, “We were on the water taxi when it diverted from the route to rescue them. Kudos to the crew!”
1:08 PM: Thanks to Rodney for the through-a-telescope photo. Meantime, we’re hoping to get more rescue details from Metro (which manages the Water Taxi).
2 PM: Our original texter, Roxanne, says the Coast Guard has brought the sailboat in. (added) Doug and Shari sent this photo:
3:18 PM: Here’s what we just received from Water Taxi/Metro spokesperson Al Sanders in response to our inquiry (photos included):
The crew of the West Seattle Water Taxi Doc Maynard rescued two boaters whose sailboat capsized off Duwamish Head shortly after 12:00 p.m.
The Doc Maynard had just left West Seattle’s Seacrest Dock on its 12:00 p.m. sailing to downtown Seattle when the crew spotted two people in the water next to a capsized sailboat.
The water taxi pulled next to the sailboat and deployed their rescue platform and life sling, but the two people were unable to use the sling.
One of the crew of the Doc Maynard then got into the boat’s rescue suit, went into the water, and assisted the people into the sling and onto the water taxi.
The Doc Maynard returned to Seacrest Dock with rescued passengers of the boat and were met by Coast Guard. The boaters worked with the Coast Guard to retrieve their capsized vessel.
After bringing the boaters to the dock, the Doc Maynard resumed its regular schedule.
Just in from King County Water Taxi management:
The M/V Spirit of Kingston (social-distancing passenger capacity of 57) will be on the West Seattle Water Taxi route all evening replacing the Doc Maynard (153-passenger capacity) while it operates on the Vashon route. The Sally Fox [regular Vashon vewsel] will be out of service tonight while scheduled maintenance on an engine is completed. Last Friday, multiple departures were near the 57-passenger limit; however, ridership today has been far lower. Please plan your commute accordingly in the event that West Seattle customer demand exceeds available capacity on any individual sailing. The M/V Doc Maynard will return to service on the West Seattle route tomorrow morning.
The Water Taxi Watch live map shows Spirit of Kingston is already on the run, so make this an afternoon/evening alert.
This is the second weekend the West Seattle Water Taxi has been on its spring/summer schedule, which adds not only Saturday and Sunday runs, but also weekday midday service. Last year, because of the pandemic, the WT never moved to the spring/summer schedule, and for months ran on a scaled-back timetable. A reader contemplating giving it a try recently asked us if it’s crowded. We noticed the Water Taxi website didn’t have updated ridership stats, so we asked King County Metro – which manages the WT – for an update. Spokesperson Al Sanders provided these numbers
2021 – first week of summer [service] = Monday-Sunday
4/19 – 386
4/20 – 484
4/21 – 477
4/22 – 357
4/23 – 603
4/24 – 364
4/25 – 384
2020 – for comparison – Monday-Friday
4/20 – 62
4/21 – 34
4/22 – 40
4/23 – 32
4/24 – 18
4/25 and 4/26 – no service
The vessels are still running at limited capacity for distancing; Sanders says that’s 153 passengers for the West Seattle run’s regular boat M/V Doc Maynard and its twin on the Vashon run, M/V Sally Fox; 57 for the backup boat M/V Spirit of Kingston. Even with that, he says, “Highs for a sailing haven’t been above 40 on any given departure, with most being 10-20.” Though the numbers are a big increase from last year, there’s a long way to go to meet the mode-shift targets the city laid out in the Reconnect West Seattle plan – 950 added trips per day – and also, to get close to pre-pandemic ridership (see the “data” tab here).
That’s the main West Seattle Water Taxi vessel M/V Doc Maynard, arriving at Seacrest this evening, its first Saturday in service since October 19, 2019. Pandemic precautions precluded its 7-day-a-week schedule last year. But this year, it’s back. That means the free shuttles to/from The Junction, Admiral, and Alki are back, too.
The shuttle schedules are here and here. Spring/summer Water Taxi service has a few changes from past years, though – for example, outside the regular Friday/Saturday night schedule, no special late-night runs for stadium sports. Other changes are detailed here; the full schedule, including weekday middays, is here.
The latest fill-in stint for M/V Spirit of Kingston on the West Seattle Water Taxi route is almost over. It’s been filling in these past two weeks while regular, larger vessel M/V Doc Maynard has been out for annual maintenance. Metro spokesperson Al Sanders tells WSB that Doc Maynard is scheduled to get “picked up” at the shipyard tomorrow, and to return to the West Seattle run on Tuesday. While we’re talking about the Water Taxi, a reminder – we’re just two weeks away from the spring schedule, adding midday and 7-days-a-week service starting April 19th.
Just in from King County Water Taxi management:
For approximately the next two weeks, the 33-passenger MV Spirit of Kingston will replace the 86-passenger MV Doc Maynard on the West Seattle route, while the Doc is in the shipyard for scheduled annual maintenance. West Seattle riders should plan accordingly given the reduced passenger capacity, especially on the 4:45 and 5:25 evening sailings. We apologize for the inconvenience.
The water taxi continues to prevent the spread of COVID-19 through regular cleaning and disinfecting between sailings. Masks are required for both passengers and crew.
And a reminder that this year, as announced earlier this month, the Water Taxi does plan a 7-days-a-week, all-day spring/summer schedule, starting April 19th.
Because of the pandemic, the West Seattle Water Taxi never switched to its seven-day spring/summer schedule last year. However, Metro says today that this year, it will. The daily-service season will be shorter than past years, starting two weeks later and ending two weeks earlier. It will include late-evening sailings on Friday and Saturdays, but no plans for late-night sports-event runs. The spring/summer schedule also will include more weekday departures – every 35 minutes during peak commute hours, hourly during middays. The new schedule will be in effect April 19th through October 15th; you can see it here. (Distancing-reduced capacity will continue TFN, of course.)
After three-plus weeks on the Vashon Island route, MV Doc Maynard is returning to the King County Water Taxi‘s West Seattle route tomorrow. That’s the word from Metro’s Torie Rynning. That means the run will be back to full (distanced) capacity. The smaller MV Spirit of Kingston handled the West Seattle run while Doc Maynard was filling in for MV Sally Fox, which was out for annual maintenance.
This is the third week that the smaller M/V Spirit of Kingston has been filling in for West Seattle’s regular King County Water Taxi vessel Doc Maynard, which has been on the Vashon Island run while M/V Sally Fox has been undergoing work. King County Metro’s Torie Rynning tells WSB today, “We are now looking at Friday or Tuesday to restore the Doc Maynard to the West Seattle route. Cold weather delayed some of the painting [on Sally Fox] and there were also some delays in procuring some of the materials we needed for other repairs.” The Water Taxi won’t be running at all on Monday because of the Presidents Day holiday.
M/V Spirit of Kingston will be on the West Seattle Water Taxi route at least a few more days, according to King County Metro. We checked today to see if M/V Doc Maynard would return to the run next week, since this was the last day of the announced two-week period for which it shifted to the Vashon run, filling in for M/V Sally Fox. Metro spokesperson Torie Rynning replied, “We are now looking to restore the Doc Maynard to the West Seattle route for the Wednesday afternoon commute at the earliest. It might be longer if the weather does not cooperate, due to some outstanding painting and outdoor projects needing to be completed on Sally Fox before she leaves the shipyard. In the process of installing all new railings on the Sally Fox, the crew found other minor issues to fix, which extended the shipyard period.” M/V Sally Fox and Doc Maynard are close to identical twins – both went into service in 2015.