I want to thank everyone for your comments and kind words! I wanted to break down some more deeper costs and also looking at a new passenger only ferry dock and a parking garage which would be located to the South of the ferry terminal. Let’s start off with the deeper costs and costs of other transit systems.
The State of Washington says the run costs around $13,700 a day. Let’s round this number up to $14,000 to off set some extra costs for the example. To run the ferry Snohomish for 365 days (All Year Long) would be $5,000,500 +/-. To run the ferry Chinook for 182 days (Spring and Summer months) would be $2,500,250 +/-. The cost of the run per passenger is $6.70 round trip instead of one way (Free returning to Seattle).
Here is an actual break down of a SOV using the ferry. I know this very well since I took the Bainbridge – Seattle run for 6 months before moving back to the “mainland” but the example is pretty spot on to my life and wishful thinking.
Let’s take a typical 30-35mpg Honda or Toyota car with a single driver. At current gas prices $3.15 a gallon or more depending on the location, it would take around $30-35 to fill up your car if you take it down from just about Empty back to Full. This car should get around 280-320 miles on a tank of fuel if maintenance is kept up and using good fuel. Now, let’s take a drive to Downtown Seattle for say, a trip to the Seattle Aquarium. This trip from Port Townsend to the Kingston ferry terminal would be about an hour or about 35 miles. Now we need to wait for this ferry to arrive or if you happened to miss it we need to wait for another boat. This can add anywhere between 30 to 80 minutes on waiting and on top of the 30 minute ride but in this example, we will say we got on the ferry at $11.50 and made it over to Edmonds, 30 minutes later. We took the Kingston ferry since the Bainbridge Island run has a 1 hour wait.
After unloading and driving to I-5, there happens to be a game in Seattle – Mariners are in town for a 3:05pm game at Safeco Field and traffic is backed up from the University of Washington into Downtown. Since you have never been to the Aquarium and going by directions on Mapquest, the easiest is to stay on the freeway… add 40-50 minutes to your travel time and it’s now over 2 hours, the kids are uneasy and doing the famous “are we there yet” over and over and people are cutting you off, flipping you the finger and all that fun jazz. Once you get down to the waterfront you encounter the thing called “The Battle for Parking” This is where you have to decide if you want to shell out the parking meter amount which the maximum is 2 hours on the Waterfront in Seattle or find a parking garage where you can pay upwards of $5, $10, $20, or even upwards of $40 bucks for parking if there is a game at Qwest or Safeco Fields. For this example though we’ll pick the medium, $20 bucks. Once your all done, you have to repeat or take the Bainbridge run. You decide to take the Bainbridge run for the more scenic trip home and shell out another $11.20. Well, it’s only scenic until you deal with the traffic from Bainbridge to Hwy 3 and get lucky by the Hood Canal Bridge opening (though I would like to see that open some day)
So, for those keeping track, $30 for fuel, $11.20 for ferry one-way, $20 for parking, $11.20 return = $77.40 for the day.
Now lets take a look at the Port Townsend – Seattle ferry run at my $9.80 one way fare structure with the Coast Guard 149 passenger limit still in place, new dock, parking garage, and the Passenger Ferry Chinook also in service for a total of 8 round trips per day.
When you park at the new garage, a short walk to the ferry terminal to purchase tickets and wait or board the Snohomish or Chinook for a 90 minute journey to Pier 52. Direct access from Downtown to Downtown, Waterfront to Waterfront. Sure at times the water can be choppy but it’s no different than your pot holed roadway and your also not getting cut off by Big Rigs, huge Suburban’s and or speedy pimped out Honda’s. When you arrive in Seattle, relaxed, at ease, you make a short walk to Pier 56 and the Seattle Aquarium. After that, could have time to check out the rest of the Waterfront and what it has to offer. If and when the Streetcar (bus just isn’t the same) is back in service, hop aboard that to the Olympic Sculpture Park or up 5 block walk to the Seattle Center and Pacific Science Center. Once your all done, head back to Colman Dock and wait or board the Chinook for a 90 minute trip back to Port Townsend while enjoying the sunset with your loved one. Something both of you can enjoy instead of worrying about rear ending a car in front of you. Stress free, relaxed, and a simple way to travel.
Back to reality and there is a reason why I wrote both of those examples because they were both true. Driving and dealing with traffic, people trying to drive onto the ferry is a huge hassle and when you add any type of event traffic in either City, it only makes life that much more stressful and difficult to plan and organize what you really want to do. Taking the ferry from Seattle to Port Townsend and back was incredible and could rival some of my best scenic getaways. Both times I was relaxed, happy, calm. I wasn’t at edge for any reason but most importantly, I was ready to tackle a place I haven’t fully discovered. That is the same feeling I get when I deboard from Amtrak to Portland or Vancouver, an eagerness to see something new, even if you already been there.
A parking garage which would support 300-400 vehicles would a hub not only for passenger ferry service but also Vanpool. The garage could also be used for merchants in the corridor. The garage would be a support of the on-street parking since I have heard that parking is an issue during the busy tourist seasons.
The new dock would prevent doing costly upgrades to the Chinook should the State of Washington keep the boat and it would not interrupt Car Ferry service to Keystone. This dock could also be a resting point for either of the boats. Somebody would have to take a gamble on how much a dock for these boats would be roughly plus electrical and other needed equipment.
One poster asked about the possibility of running the ferry to Whidbey Island on select runs. This is possible but again we are trying to keep the run as cost effective as possible. In the future however, we could also look further North – like Friday Harbor or Lopez Island for a final destination and would be the mid morning run and mid-afternoon run that would go completely to those locations. Fare for Whidbey Island or Friday Harbor/Lopez Island would increase since it is not the main destination. It’s design, use, and purpose is to serve Port Townsend but the additional revenue could allow for the continuation of the run further North. That is however dependent on if people would take the service and if the boats could be used at it’s designed 350 passenger limit.
The question we need to ask ourself after look at the numbers and the probability is what do we expect of this service, what do we want of this service, and how far do we want this service to go. Should it be exclusive to the Seattle – Port Townsend region or should other regions be included. By adding more locations could add unknown service interruptions due to weather or late arrivals will be a ripple affect for the rest of the day. It’s quite difficult to digest all of this in 2 posts, especially when the author isn’t a stellar writer but I do try to get my point across and have confidence that this service between Seattle and Port Townsend can be a cost effective, money gaining solution. This is something that the State of Washington needs to look good and hard at and for it’s short existence that it had 818 people ride the boat one day.. only 334 passengers short from being completely sold out for that day should be a hint to many people that this route would be heavily popular once word got out about it.
Once ridership and operating cost numbers are released for the rest of it’s short existence, those numbers will give us a better understanding of where the ferry stands for it’s future and the petition to return the Snohomish and maybe the Chinook on a run that will not only break even but be a revenue generating service for years to come. People will understand fare increases if it is explained to them clearly and with consideration. $9.80 one way is a little bit of money that can go a very long ways to having a strong, self-sustaining service the State can use as a model to not only King County but other agencies that are in a similar predicament. This will give the State of Washington hope that it can do passenger only ferry’s successfully like the Seattle – Vashon Island run.
This is something we all will benefit from and if we lose this opportunity to harness it, it will not be restored.
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