King County Water Taxi 327 results

Followup: Water Taxi dock work starts next week at Seacrest

As reported here last weekend, the construction permit’s been issued for the new King County Water Taxi dock at Seacrest, and this morning we have more information from the King County Department of Transportation on when the work starts and what effects it will have on people who use Seacrest:

The project begins the week of Jan. 4, when Manson Construction Company will move barges and containment booms into the area between the fixed fishing pier and the shoreline. In the first stage of the project, the aging gangway, floating dock and pilings will be removed.

By mid-January, installation of new pilings will begin, which requires using a large vibratory hammer to rattle the pilings into the ground. The pile installation has the potential for increased noise especially underwater. Residents around Seacrest Park may also notice increased noise levels during working hours Monday through Friday.

The fixed fishing pier is expected to remain open to the public throughout construction, but fishermen will experience increased noise and in-water disruptions. Also, recreational diving will be interrupted at and around Seacrest Dock between mid-January and mid-February of 2010.

The pile installation is scheduled to take two to three weeks. Once it’s completed, a new dock and gangway will be installed. No increase in noise levels is expected during this construction phase; however, the work could continue to be disruptive to divers in the area.

The current construction schedule shows the project being completed by late-February, 2010.

The Water Taxi’s next season between West Seattle and downtown is scheduled to start in April. Whether it continues year-round thereafter, as has been proposed, depends on funding issues. Since the service is no longer being contracted out to Argosy Cruises, next season will bring a dock change (Pier 50 downtown, where the county’s Seattle-Vashon foot ferry now lands) and vessel change (the county’s leasing one – no final decision yet on a specific vessel).

West Seattle Water Taxi update: Permit granted for dock work

(WSB photo from June 2009)
As previously reported, the dock at Seacrest used by the West Seattle-to-downtown run of the King County Water Taxi needs major upgrade work before the service can go year-round. This week, the construction permit was granted for the dock and piling replacement project (here’s the notice on the city website), as outlined in this rendering shown at a meeting earlier this year:

While Seacrest is a city Parks Department facility, the Water Taxi service is run by the county, which is responsible for the dock-upgrade project. When government offices reopen next week, we’ll check to see when the major work is scheduled to begin. Meantime, there are still financial issues to settle before long-term year-round service is guaranteed, as the footnote on this King County Ferry District webpage underscores. The service is scheduled to restart “seasonal” operations in spring, no matter what (likely April 4, according to the “work plan” adopted with the Ferry District budget in November). As the county is now running the service instead of Argosy, the boat and dock are scheduled to change as well – with a leased vessel running between Seacrest and Pier 50, south of Washington State Ferries‘ Colman Dock.

Water Taxi scores record year – and dock expansion work begins

As the King County Water Taxi‘s West Seattle run sends out the official announcement of another record-setting year (which ended on Halloween), we also have word that work has begun on the expansion of its Seacrest dock – which will enable the foot ferry to go year-round starting next spring. Word from King County Executive-elect Dow Constantine‘s office is that work on the dock components already has begun offsite, and the 12-week expansion project will start onsite within a few weeks. Now, as for that recordsetting traffic – here’s the official announcement:

The King County Water Taxi West Seattle route broke the 200,000 rider mark in 2009, as the 12-year-old passenger ferry connecting West Seattle and downtown Seattle increased its annual ridership by 21 percent over 2008.

During the 2009 summer season:

—The West Seattle route served a total of 203,229 riders;

—Set individual monthly ridership records for each full operational month: May 2009 (31,557), June 2009 (33,865), July 2009 (46,861), August 2009 (43,981), and September 2009 (26,603);

—The 46,861 riders in July set the mark as the top ridership month in the history of the King County Water Taxi West Seattle route;

—August 2009 was the second highest ridership month in West Seattle route history (43,981 riders) and just the third month ever with 43,000 or more riders (43,020 people rode in August 2007), and

—Over the past five years, ridership on the West Seattle route has increased by 90 percent (from 106,316 riders in 2005 to 203,229 riders in 2009).

In the election’s wake, King Co. Ferry District/Water Taxi sails on

This almost got lost in the flood of news that surged in Monday, with the vote count that settled the mayor’s race, among other things: After action taken by the King County Council sitting as the King County Ferry District Board of Supervisors, the district lives on, but with the reduced tax levy that was announced in July as a bus tradeoff – that means the West Seattle and Vashon routes continue, but there will be no “demonstration routes” elsewhere in the foreseeable future. Read on for the county’s official announcement:Read More

Reminder – King County Water Taxi (WS) is docked till spring

Thanks to David Hutchinson for that Saturday shot from Seacrest, as the King County Water Taxi‘s West Seattle-downtown runs were in their final hours of the season. The county website says simply it’ll be back in the spring – but much is in play till then – tomorrow’s election, for one, since County Executive candidate Susan Hutchison has criticized the King County Ferry District (including the Water Taxi); then there’s the district’s budget for next year – according to this notice, a public hearing is set for one week from today; see the budget here – it lays out the plan for the Water Taxi to resume service next April as a year-round operation. But first, those Seacrest dock improvements recently signed off on by the city need to be made, too.

Extra Water Taxi service (and traffic alert) for Sounders tomorrow

From Linda Thielke at King County Department of Transportation:

The Seattle Sounders soccer team will open up the post season with a playoff game against the Houston Dynamo on Thursday at 7 p.m. at Qwest Field.

The game could disrupt traffic as thousands of fans in green-and-blue scarves are expected to descend on Pioneer Square and the Sodo area. Expect traffic congestion during the afternoon and evening commute. Also, bus passengers who are traveling through the downtown area Thursday afternoon may experience some delays in transit service.

For fans wanting to beat the traffic and travel to the game by bus, use Metro Transit’s Trip Planner to plan a route most convenient for you. And, West Seattle Water Taxi passengers should be aware the Water Taxi will operate a Friday night schedule on game night, with the last sailing from Seattle to West Seattle at 10:30 p.m.

And a reminder, Saturday is the last day of the season for the Water Taxi – which is scheduled (pending election and budget variables) to go into year-round operation after Seacrest dock improvements are done early next year.

Transportation notes: Viaduct-closure signs; Water Taxi end date

VIADUCT CLOSURE THIS WEEKEND: Looking ahead to this weekend’s Alaskan Way Viaduct inspection closure, WSDOT wants to give you a heads-up about two signs you may have seen: They’re not entirely accurate. Kristy Van Ness explains why:

We’ve placed two variable message signs as you head north from West Seattle toward downtown, alerting drivers of this weekend’s closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct. But… there’s a character limit on those signs, so they state that the viaduct is closed from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. We are still going to open the Viaduct at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, so those heading to the Sounders game can use the structure if needed, but just couldn’t fit those extra characters on the sign!

(added 1:52 pm) By the way, a big ceremony is scheduled this Saturday morning for the signing of the tunnel agreement approved by the Seattle City Council earlier this week. The media invite hasn’t gone out yet but we got the tip from Chas Redmond, one of the West Seattleites who are on the “portal working groups” hashing out what will be happening AROUND the tunnel. WSDOT tells us those groups may not reconvene for another month or so.

WATER TAXI REMINDER: King County just sent out a short reminder that, as scheduled all along, the Water Taxi route between West Seattle and downtown is still scheduled to end its season on Halloween. (Just this week, the City Council gave its approval to the plan for dock work to be done in the offseason, looking ahead to planned year-round operation of the route; we’re checking to find out the timetable on that.)

Election 2009: Is West Seattle “nowhere”?

If you follow @westseattleblog on Twitter, you know the side conversations are numerous. One of them involved a musing (see it here) three days ago about a campaign commercial online (see it here, “cued up” to the reference) in which King County Council Chair/County Executive candidate Dow Constantine is accused of spending money on “ferries going nowhere,” while an image of the King County Water Taxi is shown. We wondered aloud if that was meant to suggest West Seattle is nowhere. The ad apparently subsequently hit the airwaves, which led Joseph Brick to wonder the same thing and send the question to us and The Stranger, which quickly pursued responses and just sent us links to their resulting Slog posts. Short summary, with the links: The person who produced the “ferries going nowhere” ad (whose funding is noted here) notes it’s an “independent” production and that “the (Susan) Hutchison campaign hasn’t seen it” and explains they were referring more to plans to expand the foot ferries; the Constantine campaign contends it’s evidence of an “anti-Seattle campaign” by Hutchison “and her allies.” No published comment from the Hutchison campaign so far, but we are seeking one. (12:47 AM WEDNESDAY: Haven’t received a reply.)

Water Taxi will run late tomorrow for Sounders match

Someone asked us to check into this – we can’t find the original note but we did find the answer on the King County Water Taxi site: there WILL be late runs after the Sounders game tomorrow (as well as Sept. 3 Seahawks, and extra-late this Saturday night post-Seahawks if necessary). The schedule’s here.

Water Taxi dock improvements win key approval in permit process

(WSB photo from June 2009)
Though the very existence of the King County Water Taxi has become a campaign issue in the County Executive race, its West Seattle and Vashon services continue chugging back and forth across Elliott Bay multiple times a day, and plans to make the West Seattle run year-round starting next year are still proceeding. As part of those plans, the dock at Seacrest is to be upgraded, with work to be done this fall – replacing the floating wooden dock (shown above) with concrete – and that work has just won approval for “shoreline substantial development” (scroll down to the second-to-last notice on this page); that decision is appealable to the State Shoreline Hearings Board, according to today’s notice. The project still needs construction permits, which are in progress, according to the official city page. Given the county budget situation, we checked with County Council Chair Dow Constantine‘s office – he also chairs the King County Ferry District Board. Reply: “At this point we are moving forward with all plans for service improvements to West Seattle and Vashon until otherwise directed by the Ferry District board. The board will be making several important decisions in the coming months in the budget process.”

West Seattle Chamber to county: Don’t kill the Water Taxi

As ballots go out today, the King County Water Taxi has become more and more of a political football in the campaign for county executive, with at least three candidates saying they want to end funding for the King County Ferry District, which runs the West Seattle-Downtown and Seattle-Vashon routes, and a new proposal from County Executive Kurt Triplett last week to shelve funding for “demonstration routes.” The West Seattle Chamber of Commerce has just sent an open letter to county government, noting that anyone who wants to make sure the Water Taxi remains available to West Seattle might consider doing the same. Read on for the letter:Read More

New federal ferry money: $2 million for King County Water Taxi

U.S. Senator Patty Murray has announced that $7.6 million more transportation dollars are coming to our state for ferry operations – and $2 million is earmarked, we’re told, to go toward a new vessel for the West Seattle run of the King County Water Taxi. (The other money is going toward a Seattle-Bremerton foot ferry, as well as $3 million for Washington State Ferries‘ Anacortes terminal and $750,000 for a new Skagit County ferry terminal serving Guemes Island.) The $2 million would be “more than half the cost” of a new ferry, according to King County Council Chair Dow Constantine‘s office. (Meantime, some of Constantine’s opponents in the King County Executive race continue kicking the Water Taxi around as a political football – eastside State Rep. Ross Hunter, who said the other day that he’d kill the county-run ferries altogether, promises “startling numbers” about passenger ferries at a media briefing this morning — in front of a Lake Union yacht dealership.) 11:27 AM: Daily Weekly has posted a bit about Hunter’s latest anti-KCWT attack.

Election 2009: Hunter says he’d kill West Seattle’s Water Taxi run

State Rep. Ross Hunter is the second candidate in a week to include changes to King County Water Taxi plans as part of a proposal for what he would do if elected King County Executive. Last week, State Sen. Fred Jarrett said he would scuttle plans to expand Water Taxi operations; today, according to West Seattleite Mike Seely writing in the Daily Weekly, Hunter says he would drop the West Seattle-downtown run altogether. Here’s the story. (Hunter and Jarrett are running for the open seat against Water Taxi champion and King County Council Chair Dow Constantine, County Councilmember Larry Phillips, former TV anchor Susan Hutchison and three others; the August 18th primary election will narrow the field to two – could be any two, since it’s now a nonpartisan office. Follow the links here to find out more about all the candidates.)

King County Water Taxi sets another ridership record

(Photo taken on a low-tide day during the Water Taxi’s recordsetting June)
Just in from King County Council Chair Dow Constantine‘s office:

The King County Water Taxi had another record month in June, with a total of 33,865 riders carried by the popular West Seattle-to-downtown passenger-only ferry.

The ridership represents an increase of 12.7 percent over June 2008, in which 30,046 passengers rode the Water Taxi. The year-to-date Water Taxi ridership is 85,784, as compared with 59,386 at the end of June 2008.

The Water Taxi also continued its MVP role for Mariners baseball fans returning home after games—a total of 410 people rode the four boats from Pier 55 to West Seattle’s Seacrest Park following the Mariners’ matinee (1:40 p.m. start time) win over the San Diego Padres.

“Mariners fans are a big part of our loyal Water Taxi ridership and we are happy to give them the opportunity to skip the traffic jams and take a relaxing ride home after the game,” said County Council Chair Dow Constantine, who also serves as chair of the King County Ferry District Board. “We will work to replicate the success of our West Seattle route as the King County Ferry District adds demonstration service on other routes on Puget Sound and Lake Washington.”

The King County Water Taxi will be running on a Saturday schedule on both Friday, July 3, and Saturday, July 4. This means the first sailing from Pier 55 will be at 8:30 a.m. both days and the first sailing from West Seattle at 9:00 a.m. The last boat will leave Pier 55 at 10:30 p.m. and West Seattle at 11:00 p.m. For a complete sailing schedule, visit

King County Water Taxi celebrates record May ridership

Just announced by King County Council Chair Dow Constantine‘s office – 20 percent more than last May — read on for the official news release:Read More

King County Water Taxi, month 1: “These numbers bode well”

Remember that sunny scene when the renamed King County Water Taxi kicked off the 2009 season a month ago? Despite subsequent bouts of stormy weather, the West Seattle-to-downtown foot ferry carried 20,361 passengers during its first month, according to numbers made public today by King County Council/King County Ferry District Board Chair Dow Constantine, who said, “These numbers bode well for a successful move to year-round Water Taxi operation next year.” More numbers: 663 riders on the average weekday, 911 on the average Saturday, 1,406 on the average Sunday (including April 5, when 3,429 people took advantage of all-day freebies). This year’s season is scheduled to run through October, and Seacrest dock improvements — to facilitate year-round operation starting next year — are planned for the off-season after that.

Mariners’ home opener tomorrow: The Kid, The Traffic, The Taxi

That’s a little of what we used to call “raw video” in the TV business, where West Seattle-based broadcaster New York Vinnie and your editor here used to work together. NY Vinnie got that video behind the scenes on the field at Safeco today as Ken Griffey Jr. got ready for tomorrow’s Seattle Mariners home opener against the Angels; we’re using it to remind you about some traffic and travel notes: Game time is 3:40 pm; Vinnie notes that “if you are coming from West Seattle, leave extra time, as there is major road construction going on on 1st Avenue between Spokane Street and the ballpark.” The King County Water Taxi‘s an option, since it promises extra night runs to get you home from Mariners games (with late shuttle-bus runs too); see the schedule here (and find it atop the WSB Traffic page, any time).

West Seattle Weather Watch: Supposed to be sunny tomorrow too

April 6, 2009 7:44 pm
|    Comments Off on West Seattle Weather Watch: Supposed to be sunny tomorrow too
 |   King County Water Taxi | West Seattle news | West Seattle weather

One more photo from our 8:50 am King County Water Taxi (WSB sponsor) run downtown this morning … looks like tomorrow will be conducive to commuting via water, too.

Update: King County Water Taxi day 1 sets a ridership record

(WSB photo from 8:50 am run this morning, looking back toward West Seattle)
3,429 riders yesterday, is the word we just got — “a new record,” per the Water Taxi’s announcement on Twitter. (Our coverage from Sunday, with photos and video, can be found here.)

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.

King County Water Taxi’s first West Seattle arrival of 2009

A shimmering morning at Seacrest Pier, as the King County Water Taxi arrived less than half an hour ago for the first time under that name and the first official time this year. Today’s big party is noon-2 pm, with giveaways and entertainment; free rides are all day (here’s the schedule); parking is already tight at and around the pier, so take the shuttle or be prepared for a walk.

This may be the second-to-last time we get our traditional “first arrival” video – next year, if all goes according to plan (including dock improvements after this season ends 10/31), the Water Taxi is supposed to start running year-round. P.S. You can find the Water Taxi schedule linked atop the WSB Traffic page.

The night before its season launch, see the Water Taxi’s new look

We just couldn’t wait till tomorrow morning — went to the downtown waterfront tonight to get photos of the new trim and new logo on the newly rebranded King County Water Taxi. Tomorrow, of course, you can see it in person …

… free rides all day, and while the big party at Seacrest Pier (map) is noon-2 pm (with the fireboat Leschi scheduled for a spray show around 12:45), the Water Taxi sails its full schedule on day 1, which means you should see its first arrival at Seacrest around 8:45 am. P.S. If you’re trying to remember what the Water Taxi USED to look like, here’s a WSB photo from last fall:


Talking with King County Council Chair Dow Constantine at the Gathering of Neighbors today, we’re pretty sure he mentioned a new look for the shuttle buses too, so we’ll be watching out for that tomorrow morning as well. ADDED 11:07 PM: Well, we don’t even have to wait till tomorrow for THAT – turns out the King County Ferry District has a Flickr stream with an entire sequence of photos of the shuttle-bus rewrapping — see it here (as well as more pix of the Water Taxi’s new look).

Fireboat fans: Another reason to come to the Water Taxi party

As you’ve already heard here and elsewhere what may seem like a million times, the King County Water Taxi (WSB sponsor) opens its 2009 season this Sunday, with free rides all day and a noon-2 pm party at Seacrest. Just got word that the fireboat Leschi is scheduled to “greet” the Water Taxi during the party, when it arrives around 12:45 pm. Always a sight (especially if you have little ones, although some of us kids-at-heart find the spray a riveting sight too)