West Seattle, Washington
It’s been almost two years since a short break in West Seattle and Vashon Water Taxi service so it could move to an interim downtown terminal during construction of the permanent new one. Now, it’s time for another break to move “back,” as announced today:
From Monday, July 22 through Sunday, July 28 for all scheduled sailings, King County Water Taxi and Kitsap Fast Ferry service will be temporarily suspended while staff make final preparations needed to shift service from the temporary terminal at Pier 52 to the new passenger only terminal at Pier 50. Service is anticipated to resume Monday, July 29.
You can read more about the transition here.
Back in December, we reported on a King County Water Taxi survey “to address bicycle capacity issues,” with questions including whether a fee should be charged to bring a bike on board. The decision on that, so far, is “no,” but the county has announced new limits on bicycle capacity per sailing, as well as a limit on bicycle size. The new policies take effect a week from Monday (on June 24th) and are explained in this update on the Water Taxi website.
A choppy start to the West Seattle Water Taxi‘s 7-day-a-week schedule – the 3:45 pm departure from downtown is being skipped because, per the county alert:
Due to a mechanical issue with the Doc Maynard, the 3:45 departure from West Seattle has been cancelled while the crew takes the vessel to the King County maintenance facility and brings the Spirit of Kingston into service beginning with the 4:05 departure from Pier 52.
The substitution could be problematic later since the Mariners’ home opener could mean bigger usage, and SoK is a smaller boat. We’re checking.
(WSB photo from January)
3:02 PM: The West Seattle Water Taxi‘s seven-day-a-week schedule starts Thursday, and that means the end of the 2-boat service that started just before the Alaskan Way Viaduct permanently closed. You can preview the spring/summer schedule here. Key points, as the county reminds us, are that the Water Taxi will:
*Be in service seven days a week from Pier 50 downtown to West Seattle
*Include late evening sailings every Friday and Saturday
*Depart downtown Seattle as late as 10:45 p.m. during Seattle Mariners, Sounders and Seahawks night home games
Thursday is in fact the Mariners‘ home opener, though the game starts at 4:10 pm, so the Water Taxi’s not likely to have to run that late.
ADDED TUESDAY NIGHT: Turns out TODAY was the final day of 2-boat service – see this service advisory for Wednesday.
If you’re still catching up post-snow, here’s a reminder for tomorrow, from the King County Water Taxi:
This coming Monday, February 18, both the West Seattle and Vashon Island Water Taxis will be in service on the Presidents Day holiday. The Vashon route will be operating its normal commuter schedule and the West Seattle route will be operating its enhanced SR-99 (transition) schedule. Please check the King County Water Taxi website for scheduled departure times.
Expanded service during the SR 99 closure will remain through March 27: The West Seattle Water Taxi expanded service has departures every 20 minutes during peak commute times and is offering midday service. There is still a lot of capacity on each and every sailing, plus room on free shuttle routes 773 and 775, room on Ride2 on-demand shuttles, and 100 – 200 free spaces still available daily at the Pier 2 parking lot across from 7-Eleven on Harbor Avenue. Vessels depart the dock at the departure time, so riders are advised to allow time to board the vessel.
Thanks to Eugene Lee for the photo from the West Seattle Water Taxi dock at Seacrest this morning. Now that the Highway 99 tunnel opening is confirmed for Monday, that makes tomorrow the final 99-less commute. To mark the occasion, King County Executive Dow Constantine plans to greet WT commuters at the dock, as he did at the start, so if you’re there around 7:30 am Friday, you’ll get the chance to say hi. Two WT reminders beyond tomorrow:
-The expanded-schedule two-boat service DOES continue all the way until the 7-day-a-week schedule begins in late March. The extra parking at Pier 2 and park-and-ride shuttle will continue, too.
-The WS Water Taxi DOES run Saturday because of the viaduct/tunnel celebration – here’s our story from earlier this week with that day’s special schedule.
FYI for West Seattle Water Taxi riders, from King County’s Jeff Switzer: “The Spirit of Kingston will be in service Thursday morning, Jan. 31, in place of the Doc Maynard, to allow for a quick engine part swap on the Doc. It is scheduled to be back in service for the 1:15pm departure from Pier 52.”
SCHEDULE: The Water Taxi will run every 35-40 minutes Saturday on this schedule:
If it fills up, with people still waiting, they’ll leave immediately and return as soon as they can, but they advise that if you’re trying for a particular time, be there early. All standard fares apply on Saturday.
PARKING: The free Pier 2 lot, which holds about 250 cars, will be open on Saturday. The entrance is at 2424 Harbor Avenue SW, across from the 7-11, and there will be a free shuttle to and from the Water Taxi at Seacrest as has been the case on weekdays. It will open at 5:45 am Saturday and close at 7:45 pm – if you don’t get your car by then, the county warns, it’ll be locked in until Monday morning.
Again, this is for Saturday only – the Water Taxi will not run Sunday (the only event that day is the sold-out bike ride). So what happens when you arrive downtown? The Water Taxi website has advice in this update.
ADDED TUESDAY: Though the Water Taxi will run Saturday, the 773/775 shuttles will not – just the Pier 2-parking-lot-to-dock-and-back shuttle.
If you missed our mention in Friday’s expanded traffic/transit coverage – the West Seattle and Vashon Water Taxi service WILL run tomorrow on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, though that holiday in previous years has been a no-service day for the foot ferry. Also note that the West Seattle route will be on the same expanded two-boat schedule it’s been running since the first Highway 99-less commute a week ago; expanded shuttle service and free Pier 2 parking will be available too. (If you haven’t tried it yet, here’s the brochure with the overview. One change, says King County: A downtown departure was moved up to 5 pm, 5 minutes earlier than in the brochure. The website schedule here is correct.)
P.S. Though traffic is bound to be lighter since schools and most government facilities are closed, we will launch our expanded traffic/transit coverage at 5:30 am Monday as we’ve done since last week, too. Thanks again to everyone who has contributed comments, tips, questions, alerts!
Thanks for the tips. With West Seattle Water Taxi service about to increase because of the Viaduct-to-Tunnel transition time, signs of the impending changes – announced months ago – are starting to show up today. Above, two big canopies are covering areas of the pier at Seacrest.
Nearby, signs are up for the temporary parking restrictions along Harbor Avenue SW – no parking 2 am-5 am on the water side of the street, between Fairmount and the north/west entrance to Don Armeni Boat Ramp. Starting Monday, the West Seattle Water Taxi will be on a two-boat schedule for the rest of the winter season, and will add midday service – you can see the revised schedule here. Along with street parking, there will also be parking available at Pier 2 (enter across from the Harbor Avenue 7-11) with a free shuttle to the Water Taxi dock and other changes detailed here. Here’s more on what’ll be different. Meantime, we’ll have coverage later this afternoon of today’s big Viadoom-readiness briefing, held at SDOT HQ downtown.
Announced by the King County Water Taxi:
The MV Doc Maynard will sail on the Vashon Island route of the King County Water Taxi through January 11. The MV Spirit of Kingston will sail on the West Seattle route during this time. The MV Sally Fox was removed from service last night for minor repairs and will remain out of service in the shipyard for previously scheduled maintenance. She will return to service on January 14.
That’s the first weekday post-Alaskan Way Viaduct closure – and the start of expanded service, during which the county has said it’ll run two vessels on the West Seattle route (the schedule was finalized last week).
Can’t tell how long it’s been in circulation, but a survey linked from the Water Taxi website has only three days left, and while it’s billed as a survey “to address bicycle capacity issues,” it includes questions of interest to all Water Taxi riders, not just those who bring bikes on board. One question asks whether the Water Taxi should charge extra for bicycles brought on board, and if you think so, how much. The county says the survey is open through Wednesday; you can start it here.
2:47 PM: Ever since King County announced that the West Seattle Water Taxi would add service when the Alaskan Way Viaduct shuts down for the tunnel transition, we’ve been asking about schedule specifics. Today – with exactly one month to go until the AWV is closed forever on January 11th – the schedule is out. It was released along with other transit-related announcements at a media briefing at Seacrest, led by County Executive Dow Constantine and Mayor Jenny Durkan. We were only able to drop in briefly after getting sidetracked by breaking news, but we did get the info you need to know:
Scroll through that document (or here in PDF) to see the new Water Taxi schedule, which will continue not only through the three-week Highway 99 closure, but all the way until the WT’s seven-days-a-week spring/summer schedule begins in late March. It also includes the expanded Route 773 and 775 shuttle schedules. Also, there’s word a new on-demand app-based ride service will start serving parts of West Seattle, Ride2:
The new mobile app Ride2 Transit will make it possible for commuters to hail an on-demand van to and from two locations in West Seattle – the Water Taxi dock at Seacrest Park and the Alaska Junction – that will provide first- and last-mile transit.
Here’s the map of the area that Ride2 will serve:
The county says the Ride2 pilot program will start December 17th and last a year. Find out more here. Meantime, today’s new county info also includes this reminder about expanded parking for those who choose to get to the Water Taxi that way:
Harbor Ave SW will have overnight parking restrictions south of Seacrest Park on the southeast (water) side to allow open morning parking for approximately 120 cars.
SW Bronson Way is an unpaved parking area south of Salty’s restaurant which holds about 40 cars.
The Pier 2 parking lot is a secured parking facility holding more than 250 cars. It will be staffed Monday through Friday from 5:45 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Cars will not be accessible outside of these hours. We suggest you park here 20 minutes before sailing time. The shuttle will run the .6 mile route continuously between Pier 2 and Seacrest Park.
Again, the Alaskan Way Viaduct closes forever on January 11th, for about three weeks of work required to “Realign 99” with the new tunnel. Ramps to and from 99 in the stadium zone will close a week before that, on January 4th, and the new NB 99 ramp into downtown won’t open for two to three weeks after the tunnel (as first announced last June), so West Seattleites headed north are facing more like a six-week squeeze.
3:23 PM: Added photos. Also, if you’re interested in the official news release about today’s event, read it here.
In case you’ve missed our repeated mentions in morning traffic coverage, tonight’s the last night of this year’s 7-day-a-week West Seattle Water Taxi schedule. Starting tomorrow and continuing until late March, the foot ferry runs Mondays-Fridays, am and pm commute times only; you can see the schedule here. This offseason will have a twist – as we first reported last month, the West Seattle Water Taxi will add a second vessel, plus a park-and-sail lot, while Highway 99 is closed for the viaduct-to-tunnel transition starting January 11th. We’ll be following up soon to seek specifics.
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 Seattle’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.
“It’s an honor to know Captain Bearden, Ms. Cook and Mr. McDougall. These are true professional public servants,” said McDermott. “Their skillful response to a dangerous situation should give confidence to everyone in King County that we’re in excellent hands on this very important regional transit service.”
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.
“What impressed me most was the efficiency with which our crew responded to the man in the water and worked in unison to do as we’d trained,” said Capt. Bearden. “From 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.”
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. Today’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 Seattle’s history.
It is the latest milestone for King County’s water taxi service, which set a monthly ridership record on its West Seattle route in July.
“Thousands of people enjoyed a scenic trip to Alki Beach for a major celebration without having to fight traffic or search for parking,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “Our successful collaboration with Sub Pop Records reflects our commitment to being nimble and responsive so we can deliver outstanding customer service.”
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 County’s water taxi and free shuttle to Alki Beach, reducing traffic congestion in the surrounding neighborhoods.
“It would have been impossible to bring that many people to our festival without the help of the King County Water Taxi,” said Sub Pop CEO Megan Jasper. “They 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 we’ve heard from many of them how enjoyable their commute was.”
“Music is one of those treasured experiences that brings people together,” Jasper added. “The 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 – which can carry 278 passengers each – 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. We’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.