This dock at the Kirkland Marina, currently used by Argosy Cruises, might be a future foot-ferry port
Might this dock at the Kirkland Marina have a Water Taxi in its future? (Photo by the Author)

On February 8, the King County Council accepted the final report on Water Taxi expansion. The Council vote followed an occasionally contentious review at the TrEE (Transportation, Economy and Environment) Committee the week before. No decision was taken on moving forward with the expansion. That’s a budgetary decision to be taken up, if a request is made, as part of the budget process later this year.

The final report refines analysis presented in the interim report, and accommodates some suggestions by the jurisdictions and stakeholders that might be served. But the key findings haven’t changed greatly. Three routes are being considered:

  • Kenmore (Log Boom Park) to University of Washington (Waterfront Activity Center)
  • Kirkland (Marina Park) to University of Washington (Waterfront Activity Center)
  • Ballard (Shilshole Marina) to Downtown Seattle (Pier 50).

A few modifications are suggested. In Kenmore, the ferry may eventually serve Lake Pointe where development could create an opportunity for shared parking (initial service would be via Log Boom Park with parking at a remote lot served by shuttle bus). In Kirkland, where downtown parking for transit riders would not be available, a circulator shuttle to bring riders to the Marina is examined. Expedia has asked that the ferry from Shilshole Bay stop at Interbay en route to downtown Seattle.

The revisions to the proposal do not improve expected performance. These are low-ridership high-cost services. At launch, off-season ridership would range between 135 and 165 daily riders per route, growing to 285-370 after 10 years. Summer ridership, boosted by recreational users, would grow from about 300 daily riders on each route to just over 500 after 10 years.

Existing Water Taxi costs compare unfavorably to Link or Metro. The proposed new routes would be even worse.
Water taxi costs compare unfavorably to Link or Metro.

Serving seasonal recreational users improves the unit (per-rider) economics, but is a peculiar priority for transit dollars. These ferries are assumed only to operate at weekday peak times, and that would not be the obvious way to serve such riders anyway. The West Seattle Water Taxi which does operate on summer weekends has very lopsided ridership. 1,400 recreational users use that water taxi daily on summer weekends. That falls to 642 on summer weekdays, and only 55 on off-season weekdays. Even with regular commute riders in the mix, total August ridership is six times greater than in January. [UPDATE: Edited to clarify the daily counts in sentences 4, 5 are recreational only, and to add additional context re seasonal ridership by month].

Even those low off-season numbers assume the water taxi can capture a large share of the transit market (58% of Kenmore-UW base ridership in 2025, or 43% of Kirkland-UW). There is optimism that the much slower travel times would be offset by other benefits like guaranteed seats on the uncrowded ferry and a more scenic trip.

Operating costs would start about $25-$34 per rider, declining to $19-22 after 10 years. Farebox recovery rates would start at 12-16% and improve to 28-31% after 10 years, but with higher fares starting at $5.25. Cost-per-rider isn’t the only metric to consider with a ferry. On Vashon, ferry service is necessary because it’s an island. But the case for such a high-cost transit mode in markets served by buses at lower cost (with better speeds and frequencies) is less obvious.

Ferries are rarely the optimal form of transit except in markets with dense waterfront development and/or an absence of over-land or bridge routes. The walk-shed is necessarily truncated, so ferries only work well when the transit network funnels riders to the port. The Kenmore parking shuttle and Kirkland circulator buses don’t much resemble the tightly integrated bus networks bringing riders to ferries in North Vancouver and Sydney Harbor. Nor do either of those ferry markets compete against such time-competitive bus alternatives.

Travel time comparisons do not favor the ferry.
Travel time comparisons do not favor the foot ferry.

Water taxis are funded via a property tax levy which will increase significantly in 2017 just to support current service levels. The current low levy rate of just $1.50 on a $500,000 house dates to a 2009 adjustment in tax rates that funded Rapid Ride while keeping overall taxes neutral. The levy will increase to an estimated $9.55 in 2017 to maintain existing current routes. Adding three more routes would take that to almost $22/$500,000 house. While the value proposition is not compelling, the total cost might not be large enough to draw close attention. Nevertheless, there has been some adverse media coverage, notably a skeptical piece by Danny Westneat in the Seattle Times.

Claudia Balducci’s comments at the TrEE committee are on point:

This type of service should be compared to every other type of transit that we provide.

[] I think we have to watch the way we talk about things. When we say everybody gets a seat, a seat for everybody, that would be really nice on about a few hundred buses around here every single day that I could think of, if everybody could have a seat. It’s another way of saying the service is under-utilized, frankly.

[] before the adoption of the passenger ferry district, a person came to one of the subarea boards of transportation and made a presentation that showed pretty conclusively that you could provide the same level of ridership by having a taxi come to the Kirkland waterfront and drive people all the way around to the University of Washington for each and every rider that you would serve.

I think we need to take a really careful look at this before we go full speed ahead to increasing service”.

139 Replies to “Where Now For The Water Taxi Expansion?”

  1. The word “boondoggle” tends to be thrown around by people who hate transit, but in this case, it’s the only adequate word. Besides Vashon island — crucially, an ISLAND — foot ferries in King Country are a solution in search of a problem. Rod Dembowski and the other people pushing this at the county should be ashamed of themselves.

    If this goes to the ballot, I will take pleasure in campaigning against it, and watching it go down on flames.

    1. Can someone please tell me why cities like Seattle and NYC are so hell bent on wasting money on foot ferries? Is there a foot ferry lobby somewhere I don’t know about?

      1. I’m not familiar with the NYC case well enough to speak to much. But both the Hudson and the East River have dense development down both sides along with major transit hubs. Furthermore at least on the Hudson side it can be argued the existing road and rail capacity is insufficient for the demand during peaks.

        Seattle has few foot ferry routes that make sense. Every one that has been tried has required a high level of subsidy. Even routes that should make sense like Kingston to Downtown Seattle.

        Even with Vashon there is a bus+auto ferry alternative. I’m not sure of the travel time but I suspect the cost per rider is still much cheaper than the foot ferry.

        As someone else pointed out the long-distance routes (San Juans, Victoria) may make sense but a private company seems to be doing a fine job addressing that need.

        At this point in time I’d support keeping the Vashon and West Seattle routes but not adding any new ones.

      2. It would be interesting to compare the cost of the County run Water Taxi vs what it cost contracting to Argosy.

        How many passenger only ferry routes have failed in the Puget Sound over the last 30 years?

      3. The only publicly-run NYC ferry (that I can find) is the Staten Island ferry, which has a ridership of 22 million boardings per year – more than all ST express buses put together – all from one route. If we could get even 10% of that ridership from a foot ferry here, it mike make sense to start it.

      4. David, there is also the East River Ferry:

        http://www.eastriverferry.com

        For the most part, it is a heavily subsidized service for people who live in wealthy waterfront communities on the East River in Brooklyn and Queens, and who happen to also work in either midtown or the financial district. There is no other demographic who could possibly take the East River Ferry as a daily commute.

        Routes that make a marginal amount of sense, like downtown to Rockaway, are seasonal only. Rockaway is a largely working class community and the ferry is actually much faster than the train but the price is far too high for daily commuting and is instead used as a summer beach shuttle. Again, a shuttle for the wealthy and not a real transit option.

      5. David, 22 million sounds unbelievable, but a large number of those people are tourists. The ferry is free and goes right by the Statue of Liberty. Thousands of people every day ride the ferry round trip just to see it. So it’s not really “transit” as much as publicly funded sigh-seeing. I would be interested to hear if there are any numbers available of people who actually use the ferry for transit to travel from one place to another, as opposed to going round trip for a cool view.

        Also, Staten Island doesn’t have any connection to Manhattan, so that drives ferry usage. Unlike the examples in Seattle, there aren’t any bridges, busses, or anything else to connect the two islands. So the ferry has plenty of demand since it’s the only game in town, unlike the examples in this article.

      6. I don’t know that you can say such a high number are tourists. Staten Island Railway
        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Staten_Island_Railway
        dumps thousands of passengers a day at the Staten Island end of things.

        Give Kirkland the population density of Staten Island, a railroad to the ferry, a ferry running every 10 minutes, and demolish 520, and you would probably get decent ferry ridership too.

  2. Get the costs down and this idea might have legs — particularly if tolls get put on the I-90 floating bridge. Supposedly that would increase demand while also increasing the price people are willing to pay.

    Ya, a bunch of people would rather drive around the north end as opposed to paying the toll or riding the water taxi, but that route would turn to concrete pretty quickly.

    1. The ferry fare is just barely cheaper than the highest SR 520 toll rate of $5.55. What you further save on gas and parking, you lose in time. And I’m assuming that the ferry ticket includes a bus transfer via ORCA.

      1. Exactly, at $5.25 the ferry fare represents a bargain compared to driving. At the very least the average Joe would compare the cost of the ferry to bridge toll+parking+gas costs, and that is an awful lot more than $5.25.

        So, ya, they could probably charge more for some of these ferries. How much more is the big question.

        But at the very least the ferry from Vashon Island probably makes sense. After that, the other ferries depend more on how much you can get the ridership up and drive costs down.

  3. I thought Kirkland–UW seemed like it might be viable, and was at least worth a look. I was wrong. Anyone trying to move forward on any of these routes simply isn’t serious about providing a useful public transportation system in a world of not-unlimited resources.

    1. Agreed. Having to run shuttle busses from the ferry to the transit centers and park and ride lots shows how much of a joke this is.

      They’d be better off just running the shuttle bus from the park and rides all the way to UW. It’d be faster. Remeber, 520 opens in April with new HOV lanes.

      1. Just being devil’s advocate for a moment: Considering that the current ST3 plans for both ERC BRT/LRT and 405 BRT seem to require a shuttle bus from the Kirkland Transit Center, the shuttle bus for the ferry could just be a short extension of that.

        Or for a crazy long-term idea: How about getting the UW-Ballard line built with an extension through U Village and Children’s, and a terminus at the Magnuson Park boat launch. Then run a ferry between there and Kirkland as an interim solution while waiting for a new fixed train crossing of the lake.

      2. @Goonda Ideally the BRT/Light Rail should run to downtown Kirkland instead, but even a shuttle to the HTC is not really comparable to the ferry idea because:

        1) The ferry would be infrequent and slow, requiring a lot of waiting between transfers
        2) The HTC would be relatively fast and frequent, so a bus transfer (though not ideal) would be much less painful to the rider who likely wants to avoid delays waiting outside in what can frequently be rainy, cold weather.
        3) The HTC has the potential to save the rider time in getting to their destination, where the boat would clearly be slower than if the the shuttle just kept driving towards and across 520.

        Given the numbers we’re seeing here I’m no longer convinced that a ferry between Sand Point and Kirkland would even be cost effective if there were rail connections on either side. It might be worth studying that if we ever had rail to these places, but if the boats are so slow that driving a bus around 520 is faster and cheaper, I seriously doubt it.

    2. Does the modeling take into account Link at UW?

      Kirkland – UW, then UW -Downtown should have Kirkland ridership.
      There are people who live in downtown kirkland.

      1. 520 buses would actually serve these people better unless you have “Ride the Ducks” ferries. That’s sure to go over well.

  4. I thought a Shilshole to Downtown ferry idea was useless enough, but adding a stop in Interbay?

    There is almost no part of Ballard for which a bus to Interbay would not beat this ferry, even in traffic.

    What a waste of money.

    1. Amen.

      That being said, I will say that afternoon Downtown to Ballard commutes (especially when the bridge might go up around 6) will take longer than 28 minutes–closer to 40 in the summertime. (Remember, SDOT asked people for public comment if they want to ask the feds to delay bridge openings in the evening)

      The only thing I can think of is that they really think traffic will become more unbearable (and buses are too full) and this would be a stopgap until/if light rail is built.

      1. But you’d still have to get people from way over by Shilshole Marina to where they live in Ballard using some kind of transit service. Much better to just bring back the 17.

    2. Build Sounder stations in Ballard and Broad Street, and put more people onto existing trains. Four half-full trains already run though every day; with better frequency and travel times than both the ferry and bus. It’s crazy we haven’t taken advantage of the North Line’s excess capacity for 15 years.

      1. It’d be even crazier to throw more money at Sounder North.

        No one lives anywhere near where we could put stations in Ballard so it would never be a very effective station. Its even less effective at the frequency Sounder currently offers.

        In the short term (before light rail), exclusive bus lanes along 15th and boosted frequency for the 15x, 17x and 18x would be a far superior investment.

      2. I feel as though I’ve argued this with you before.

        The train from Golden Gardens to King St. Station will never be faster than the bus, unless you live immediately adjacent to the Golden Gardens Station and work immediately adjacent to King St. Station.

        And considering there’s very limited residential buildings immediately adjacent to Golden Gardens and very limited workplaces immediately adjacent to King St. Station, the ridership potential very quickly nears zero.

        Even if you could get a station for nearly free, the few minutes wasted stopping the train for these near zero riders would be wasteful.

        It was a non starter when Sunder started and it’s a non starter now.

        Broad St is in a denser residential area and may have some potential to pick up residents that are needing to go to King St. Station. But again, they’re more likely to walk to 2nd or 3rd to take a bus, which would probably be quicker and more reliable.

      3. Rapidride: the point of the Broad St sounder station isn’t for belltown residents to get to King Street station… It’s for anyone on the sounder lines to have a grade separated station on the north end of downtown. Taking a 30-45 minute bus at rush hour from LQA or SLU to catch a sounder at king street is a huge deterrent. A broad Street station would be much more accessible to North downtown transit users trying to user either of the Sounder lines.

      4. @Andy W
        Adding that single sounder station would require North King to start paying for part of the Sounder North Service which no resident of North King will probably ever ride. Its a commute direction only service that serves zero needs of North King and should therefore get zero North King subarea funds.

        If Snohomish Co wanted to pay for a Broad St station for this purpose, maybe it would be worth considering, but I suspect Snohomish has much higher priorities for that money.

        Faster service from Downtown to LQA or SLU would be much better handled by bus exclusive lanes and new light rail service when that is eventually built.

        These services would serve a lot more people both from in and out of North King Co and are much more worthy for our investment.

      5. South Sounder is unlikely to ever get a Broad Street station as long as the rails are privately owned. The downtown tunnel is a chokepoint and BNSF makes more money running freight through there, so they would charge a lot of money for more passenger trains.

      6. @Andy, The Center City Connector will link King Street Station with the north end of downtown and SLU on dedicated right-of-way with 5-minute headways until 8 p.m.

      7. Amen, Sounder makes so much more sense over a ferry making these same 2 stops and the trains are already running now at undercapacity.

      8. I think most talking about Sounder stations at Belltown & Golden Gardens are just saying it makes more sense than a ferry serving the same places, because the ferry really makes no sense.

        If these stations were added, it would make sense to have the transition between North & South Sounder not at King Street Station but at Golden Gardens station. North of Golden Gardens, that’s North Sounder.

      9. A Broad Street station makes sense. It is north downtown, that’s all. I don’t know who would pay for it, but that could be worked out. That is the whole point of Sound Transit — to have different jurisdictions come together and chip in for something that benefits everyone. So if it can be built for a reasonable price, then it should be built. and would add value to both Sounder Lines (they would overlap).

        Golden Garden’s, on the other hand, is a long ways from anywhere. You would have to run a bus out there, maybe from both ends (85th and the waterfront). It is about five minutes (not counting stops) to 32nd, (85th or 54th) and at that point, all you’ve done is connect to the rest of the bus system. It is 10 minutes to Ballard and longer to Greenwood. I could potentially see it as a way to get from Everett to Ballard, but that is about it. It wouldn’t make sense for anyone as a way to get downtown. I think Metro would have trouble justifying a bus like that (it wouldn’t meet their service guidelines) let alone ST justifying the cost of a station. The Golden Gardens station idea is a lot like these ferry ideas — nice to consider, but when you work out the details, they just don’t make sense.

      10. @Jason If you believe the CCC will get from McGraw Square to King St. Station in under 10 minutes, then I have a South Lake Union Streetcar to sell you, that totally gets from Aloha to McGraw Square in 10 minutes!

      11. The only way to get to Golden Gardens is from Market Street which is two miles south, or down the switchback road at 85th which probably can’t handle buses or a large volume of cars, and would become an accident hotspot if it tried to. So a Golden Gardens station is really ridiculous, even more so than a Mukilteo station.

      12. @rapidrider: Again, the South Lake Union Streetcar does not run on exclusive right-of-way. Do you have any reason to doubt SDOT’s one-way travel time estimates other than, “Once there was this other streetcar, designed totally differently, that was slow”?

      13. @Jason Yes I do. The streetcar has an established northbound ROW on Terry Ave approaching Mercer St. Everyday I see the streetcar get help up for two or three light cycles due to cars either illegally using the ROW on Terry Ave and/or cars blocking the streetcar on Mercer.

        Now multiply this by many cross streets on 1st Ave and tell me that having an exclusive ROW would allow the fairy tale 10 minutes that SDOT claims for CCC.

      14. Right, because side-running exclusive for a short strip with a few splashes of paint is the same thing as center-running exclusive for an entire corridor with signal priority, separate signal phases, and substantial design treatments—potentially including physical impediments like rolled curbs. Fairy tales indeed.

      15. @Jason And when cross traffic is blocking the streetcar? There’s no enforcement at Terry and Mercer, despite a physically disabled policeman being able to write their weight in tickets at that one trouble spot. What makes you think they will enforce the MANY intersections on First?

      16. @Rapidrider Seriously? 1. Signal Priority. 2. Separate signal phases. 3. Center-running. 4. Different corridors. The Mercer Mess is its own beast: Cross-traffic blocking an entire half of the street (or more, which is what would be required for, say, eastbound traffic on a one-way street to actually block a center-running southbound streetcar) is nowhere near the same problem on 1st. 5. Why simply assume the team of transportation and transit planners who spent months creating the estimates haven’t already accounted for the possibility of cross traffic—*especially* when all documentation makes clear the CCC has been designed in response to the shortcomings of the SLUS/FHSC and in fact dedicates funding to significantly reducing SLUS trip times? You should give them a call and ask. Contact info is all over the study documents.

        And to the original point: SDOT’s numbers could be wildly off before a claim that walking will be faster is anything but hyperbole. I have no real objection to a Broad St. Sounder station, was just pointing out to Andy that the CCC is all but a reality and will be far faster than the trip times he says he experiences on the bus.

      17. @Jason OK, you got me, I concede. If SDOT successfully implements all their promised “exclusive ROW” features AND convinces SPD to enforce them, it will be faster than walking.

        Now remind me of the price tag for the streetcar? And remind me why we don’t have a bus running down this corridor instead? We could dub it the #99 bus and even paint it with streetcar colors. Hell, make it a free ride to encourage people to use it. I foresee it being a great success until the CCC gets funded!

      18. Ignoring the 99 snark, I imagine we will never agree on the merits. Like many others here I opposed a 1st Ave streetcar when it was first proposed years ago, but mostly because I never thought the city would have the cajones to take a lane in this corridor.

        The cost is $135 million, with $75 million in federal dollars already secured. So $60 million in local dollars. I believe in rail bias and I think it is almost inarguable that rail provides a superior customer experience. So to me $60 million, especially given the ridership estimates, is a reasonable price to connect King St. to South Lake Union (and all the major destinations along the route) with a premium service offering 10-minute trip times to Westlake and 5-minute headways 14 hours a day, all while radically improving the utility of our existing lines by making capital improvements to existing infrastructure and interlining service through downtown.

      19. @Jason We will definitely never agree on the 10 minute King St. to Westlake trip. The underground light rail is currently penciled in as 7 minutes, ID to Westlake, which is likely with no bus delays, traveling 20 to 30 MPH between stops. You’re telling me a SURFACE train is going to make the slog from King St, up first, make a right hand turn on Stewart and get to McGraw Square in 10 minutes? Really? With a straight face?

        And the 99 snark was semi-serious. It was a free bus up First that no one took. It lost tons of money every year it was in effect, yet if it were to operate for a century, it would still cost way less than $60 million, let alone $135 million.

        Why don’t we see if the FHSC is in anyway a success before throwing our chickens in a basket to link it to the failure that is the SLUT.

      20. Well, technically the CCC would begin at Occidental and Jackson, and no, *I’m* not telling you anything, straight-faced or otherwise: I’m merely passing along the last numbers I remember seeing from SDOT. The EIS should be released any day now, and could reveal tweaked numbers. Do I believe a train running free of traffic, with signal prioritization and its own signal phases in places, could make that trip in roughly 10 minutes? Sure, bc I’ve done it in a car plenty of times. But as I said, if you doubt SDOT’s numbers give them a call or shoot them an email asking for details.

        What I can’t even entertain with a straight face is a comparison between the 99 and the CCC as currently proposed. And wait? All this city does is wait. We should be moving as quickly as possible to begin a project that we know will drastically improve both the FHSC and the SLUS.

  5. There is a time and place for water taxis, but I believe that they need to enjoy at least ONE non-aesthetic advantage over bus and rail transit. In this case the proposed routes would take longer, have worse frequencies, higher fares, lower ridership, and much higher carbon emissions. There is just no argument for them to stand on.

    People generally don’t appreciate just how much fuel boats use. The West Seattle route averaged just 7 passenger miles per gallon in 2014, comparable to each person driving their own small bus a similar distance. But its geographic advantage is significant, 2.5x shorter than a surface trip between the same two points (5 miles compared to 2), and its time savings is solid too (10 minutes vs 25)

    The Vashon route does better, at 19 passenger miles per gallon, its passenger loads are high (63 per trip), and its time savings are enormous, taking 22 minutes compared to 70 minutes for Route 118.

    1. It could do even better if the ferry and bus schedules were better coordinated at the island end of things.

    2. I’m assuming “63 per trip” includes ridership on the reverse commute (Seattle-Vashon in the AM and Vashon-Seattle in the PM) trips (which I suspect would have very few if any riders).

      1. That is always my worry when narrowly-scoped dedicated funding sources are created.

        Sure, politicians can’t reallocate money away, but the other side of the coin is perhaps even worse: zombie operations with terrible metrics that can’t be eliminated.

      2. @Alex,

        That is exactly the point o f”narrowly-scoped dedicated funding sources,” to prevent politicians from playing games and diverting funding for X into their favorite pet project. If it wasn’t so we would have long ago seen the R’s divert ST funding into roads….

      3. Sure, but ST is not a narrowly-defined ferry district – it has a much wider mass transit remit and isn’t locked into ferries as its only mode. Even so we still see ST funding some sub-optimal projects because of political considerations.

      4. Martin’s correct that the ferry tax authority can’t be repurposed. It can support shuttle or circulator buses to a ferry, but not buses or rail to elsewhere.

        There was a discussion at the TrEE Committee on this theme, with CM Dembowski arguing that the tax authority wasn’t available for other forms of transit, and CM Balducci making the counterpoint that transit and ferry money alike came from the same taxpayer’s wallet.

        In a way, this is exactly the problem isn’t it? It’s a ferry taxing authority in search of a mission.

        If all you have is a ferry tax, everywhere begins to look like a water taxi route. But start with a sensible problem statement – how do we get people from Kenmore (or Kirkland, or Ballard) to Seattle more efficiently – and we’d never come up with a water taxi as the preferred solution.

      5. It’s a workaround for a bug in the legislative tax-authority process. The ferry district is like the monorail authority: a limited-scope transit district that was granted by an earlier legislature before it got Eyman-fever. Just getting the ST3 authority last year required all the cities and counties begging and pleading jointly for it. We can’t get that for regular Metro bus service because it doesn’t rise to the level of statewide significance (i.e., something the legislature can’t ignore).

      6. How bad of a projects depends on your political theory of tax fatigue. If you take a relaxed view of yet another tax, then this is essentially free money to provide trips that for all there faults will be at least a reliable path between nodes. And if “ferry access” buses turn out to be actually useful buses there may even be upside for the bus network.

        On the other hand, if you believe the ferry district makes it less likely that people will vote for other, more productive, transit taxes, then this is a bad deal.

      7. Martin, I can’t let your 11:40am comment go without reply. If a proposed project is bad public policy and an unproductive use of public money, then that’s what it is. Only in a universe where EVERY transit project is better than EVERY other conceivable use of money, should this boil down to whether the project “makes it less likely that people will vote for other, more productive, transit taxes.”

      8. By which measure, I think it’s a bad deal. Not to mention taxes aren’t magic money (dammit, I sound like a republican). Cost-effectiveness is pretty much always economically better than cost-ineffectiveness.

        My transit wish list is very long; we aren’t going to have room in our budgets (or political support for transit) for the good stuff if we waste our money on crap like this.

  6. From Westneat’s linked column:

    “It’s long been a curiosity to me how Seattle has fancied toy transit instead of the real thing. There’s the streetcars, the bike share, this obsession with foot ferries that would carry fewer riders than even the bike share. For years, the only train in town was a milelong monorail, like we’re Disney World.

    But nobody’s going to vote you out for pushing something as adorable as a foot ferry. Even at $29 per ride.”

    1. Hey, Danny. Even if you think LINK is a toy, why don’t you at least put it in there? You know, when you get off the Monorail, there is an elevator to Westlake Station.

      Though you’re making a good point that after 25 years of operation, signage is so bad nobody knows it’s even down there. Mattel and Lionel would also have the same complaint if kids had compound locomotives and bullet trains right on their screens.

      Good thing that hasn’t happened. Because with real electric trains, with metal locomotives that weighed as much as a brick, nobody thought they were toys.

      But incidentally, Danny: would you recommend Seattle any particular system that isn’t a toy?

      Just curious.

      Mark

  7. They’re looking at the wrong market niche. The Alki numbers show there’s greater demand for recreational travel, not 9-5 commuting. And probably on only one route, Kirkland-UW. Maybe secondarily Ballard-downtown (or Ballard-downtown-Alki). Recreational ridership peaks weekend midday, not weekdays 6-9 and 3-6. The commuters are attracted by the scenery of the slow trip, so, can’t they do that on a weekend? If they can afford a $10.50 round trip five days a week ($231/month), they can afford $10.50 on a Saturday.

    I remember a TV clip of a woman commuting by ferry across San Francisco Bay and the interviewer asked, “Doesn’t the hour travel time bother you?” and she said, “Not when I can ride like this!” pointing to the surrounding. Likewise I used to work with a woman who commuted from Bremerton to Harborview, she likewise loved her “relaxation time” on the ferry. But those are longer distances and already have all-day ferries anyway. This peak-only mosquito fleet is another thing entirely.

    Then you come to the Argosy. It runs looping tours of Lake Washington and Elliott Bay. Why can’t these people just take a tour? Well, two things. One, it costs a lot more. Two, it’s a loop, so you can’t use it for transportation from one place to another. Three, you’re paying for a long tour narration which you don’t want if you’re “just taking transit”. So that is the unmet market niche.

    Then we get to funding. Is this a priority for King County’s transportation funds? Definitely not. Especially since ST2 Link and possible BRT (522, 520, 405) will significantly change the commuting options and recreational-travel options. But perhaps it could be funded another way. Argosy could run its own Kirkland-UW trips, at a price in between a ferry and a full-feature tour. Perhaps private funding could provide a subsidy (the way people donate to art museums and the symphony). That could be tied to a promotion of Kirkland’s arts district and downtown amenities (and good for Kirkland’s businesses).

    But then how would people get to the Waterfront Activities Center on the west side? Oh look, there’s a light rail station nearby! I don’t know how far the walk from the station to the dock would be, maybe 5-10 minutes? They’re already pushing it with a 5-minute walk to the 75, so maybe a longer walk to the WAC wouldn’t be a big deal — especially since it’s targeted to recreational trips, and there is, oh, a botanical center around there too.

    1. I do find it interesting how Metro markets the foot ferry. This doesn’t exactly look a service for commuters, or those that want to get downtown for an important meeting: http://metro.kingcounty.gov/maps/routes/images/m773_0.jpg

      Lots of people take the Washington State Ferries for fun, but none of the maps look like that. That is reminiscent of the monorail. Like the monorail, it can serve both purposes, though. I do think we shouldn’t worry about adding any new lines. It is obvious they don’t work. If we want to spend more money on ferries, we should just add more service for the West Seattle ferry. I have met people who commute using it. If you run that every 15 minutes, or better yet, ever 10 minutes, it will give us an idea as to whether a similar system — built on light rail, not a boat — will be popular. The area around the ferry is not very good for foot traffic, but the West Seattle Junction isn’t exactly Times Square either — both projects need park and rides or connecting buses to be successful. It’s not quite the same, since the train would keep going (through downtown) but if people aren’t willing to get off a bus and walk over to a ferry, I’m not sure how willing they will be to get off a bus and walk down to a train.

  8. Ballard-Downtown ferry? Add a *&#%* Ballard & Broad St Sounder Station first as they’ve been discussed and on the ballot for two decades now.

    Unfortunately for the needs of the community, bigger, more robust infrastructure risks potential political windfalls going to someone else. This is occurring in New York as well: establish a ferry network today to reap political benefits today by saying “look we’re doing something!”. One Link train would could easily carry more than the daily ridership of the ferry. Or even a couple buses at a lower cost. If this political and monetary capital were directed to better buses and more bus-only lanes, more people would benefit through investments in a better network.

    1. No, no, no, I do not want to send North King dollars down the Sounder North sinkhole.

      I guess, depending on how much the ferries would cost, it still might end up being marginally more economical… but that just shows how bad an idea ferries are.

      1. Let’s be realistic though: it’s a sinkhole not going away any time soon. We’re already investing in slope stabilization work, double tracking, and a new Edmonds Station in ST3. Therefore, we might as well make two more reasonable investments on the North Line to get the most of what we have and increase it’s overall utility in our transit network.

        Imagine if North Line riders didn’t have to spend 20-30 minutes doubling-back on themselves by having a Broad St Station to access the other 2/3rds of Downtown. Additionally, it would add northbound regional transit connectivity (none existing today) to the extremely-congested Lower Queen Anne immune to Mercer, Denny, and I-5.

      2. True, but currently only Snohomish dollars are going down the sinkhole. That’s blocking other Snohomish projects – but if they were replaced by North King dollars, that’d be freeing up money for Snohomish projects at the cost of higher-cost-efficiency North King projects. In other words, it’d be worse for the region as a whole.

        Now if Sound Transit could add a Broad St station as a destination for Snohomish commuters, and swear in blood that it would be no more an excuse for spending North King money than King St Station is – then that’d probably be a good idea. But, since they’re already starting to play fast and loose with subarea equity at North King’s expense (see: East Link to the lakefront, the lack of a 130th St Station, the I-5 alignment of Link) I’m not sure what would make me trust them.

      3. Increasing network connectivity and utility, especially on something we’re already paying for one way or another as a society, is never a bad thing. And if we’re to seriously consider adding an enormously expensive and low-usage ferry from the same place to the same place as Sounder, Sounder should be part of the alternatives-analysis since it’s a viable alternative. By spending King County dollars on a ferry for 500 people, we still sacrifice service and improvements here, just on another agency’s balance sheets. For Ballard-Downtown, Sounder is here today, ready to carry lots of people on faster and more economical service.

      4. “…ready to carry lots of people…”

        But will only carry one or two.

        “…on faster and more economical service…”

        Neither fast than existing bus network nor more economical than existing bus service.

        We would be spending $30 million to transport those one or two people that live immediately adjacent to the GG Station and work immediately adjacent to the King St. Station. (otherwise bus win in both timing AND frequency) $15 million/rider is not economical.

      5. Why would North King dollars have to be spent on it? Just because it is in our area doesn’t mean we have to pick all the costs. It can be negotiated. If I live in Tacoma, I would much rather pay for a Broad Street Sounder station then extending Link.

      6. Just to be clear, I would make sure that South Sounder (which is reasonably successful) would extend to Broad Street. Since the people who would benefit most from it would be those in Pierce County (and South King) they would pay for most of it. I’m pretty sure there is precedent for this.

      7. Oh, and Broad Street makes sense, Golden Gardens does not: https://seattletransitblog.com/2016/02/23/where-now-for-the-water-taxi-expansion/#comment-694267
        A Broad Street station would add value for Seattle residents, just not as much as it adds for south end residents. The problem is frequency. It doesn’t make sense to bother with a train if it only runs every half hour. But if you time it right, a train trip from Pioneer Square to Belltown would save a significant amount of time (and there are a lot of people taking that trip).

    2. It’s interesting that the peak hours proposed for the ferry is exactly when Sounder is already running. But as others have noted, having a Ballard station could cause ST to charge North King 25% of Sounder North’s cost. That station would benefit only a vanishingly small number of Seattlites, and North King has way more critical transit needs.

      The achilles heel of either a Sounder station or water taxi is the isolated location of Shilshole. The 45th RapidRide is planned for central Ballard to Children’s, not Shilshole. Earlier Metro had #46 shuttle runs reverse-peak from Ballard to Golden Gardens, the opposite direction of the regular 46 express. It would need something like that running either from central Ballard (a ridiculously short distance and an extra transfer) or from further east (redundant).

      1. Yeah, there may be more serious needs but the ferry we’re talking about today addresses them more poorly than utilizing existing service. It’s not unreasonable to ask the question and make the suggestion: why not invest in Sounder than an entirely new service?

        North Line has been operating for 15 years and is already a sunk cost on infrastructure, trains, and maintenance. Why not, regionally, we strive to improve the overall network, subarea money be dammed? The 522, for example, has few stops in Seattle because the East Side didn’t want to pay for Seattle service. Yet that makes no sense to the overall utility of the network. Additionally, we’re looking to spend $6-10 billion on a new subway that’ll open in 10-15 years. Why not add a $30M investment able to open in 1-2 years to add some relief and additional connectivity while taking advantage of an investment we continue to make?

        The 45th RapidRide is Locks to Children’s. With our new fleet of battery buses, it’s not totally inconceivable or unreasonable to drive a few runs off-wire to serve a Shilshole Station. Or bike on the Gilman. Or, god forbid, people could drive to it and use the massive parking lots in the area.

      2. “With our new fleet of battery buses, it’s not totally inconceivable or unreasonable to drive a few runs off-wire to serve a Shilshole Station.”

        The 46 was killed off for a reason: the ridership on the GG to Ballard tail was abysmal.

        “Or bike on the Gilman. Or, god forbid, people could drive to it and use the massive parking lots in the area.”

        By the time you do this, you could bike downtown or to a nearby bus stop or drive to a nearby bus stop. The bus would then be faster than the train.

      3. The 522 has “few” stops in Seattle because its job is an express. It stops in Lake City because it replaced the 307, which ran like the 41 to Northgate and Lake City and continued like the 522 to Woodinville, hourly. At the time, the 522’s routing was seen as a big win for Lake City by eliminating the Northgate overhead, and that probably contributed to the passing of ST1 because it was a concrete benefit.

        Now of course, ST seems to think Lake City is not ST’s job, if the 522 can terminate at 145th Station. At least not until the Lake City/Bothell light rail line comes around. (Note: not the Lake City light rail line, but the Lake City/Bothell light rail line. Gotta make it regional and multi-city.)

      4. Exactly — I said as much up above — https://seattletransitblog.com/2016/02/23/where-now-for-the-water-taxi-expansion/#comment-694267
        Golden Gardens is a long ways from anywhere. It really is the problem with most of these ideas. Other than the downtown waterfront, there are very few places where development goes right to the water. Golden Gardens is especially bad — it is a five minute drive to the nearest existing bus stop. There are very few places in Seattle that remote. West Point in Discover Park is about it. That is just to get to an existing bus route (e. g. 85th and 32nd or the locks). To get to a reasonably popular location (Old Ballard) it is still another five minutes. On a bus, with regular bus stops (and you would want to add them) it would take 15 minutes (not counting traffic). It is just a very remote location.

        The West Seattle dock is better, but not ideal. The best location would be at the end of Alki (more density, more activities, a much larger walk share). But even that is not great. South Lake Union is decent, but most of the riders would still have to cross Mercer and Valley and then walk through the park. This is hardly the “why not take the boat” trip that exists in Vancouver. On paper the UW sounds like a good location, but again, development really drops off as you get close to the water. Even if you put in brand new ferry docks, you still can’t come up with a really great location.

        Making things worse, the logical connection points involve running along the shore, not crossing it. For example, I could see adding a dock in Old Ballard, at the end of 20th. Do the same for the business end of the UW, at the end of Brooklyn. Now you have a ferry that goes from the UW to Ballard to South Lake Union. This just might work. Except that now the ferry spends forever getting from one place to the other. The areas where ferries make sense are the areas where ferries save a considerable amount of distance. In this case, it wouldn’t. It is practically the same distance — that is a really crazy ferry.

        The foot ferry thing is a nice idea, but so far no one (including myself) has come up with a particular route that would make much sense.

  9. So here’s an idea… supposing this revenue source must be used for ferries, why not invest in the Bremerton – Seattle run instead?

    The one place in the whole state where high speed passenger ferries would make a difference tomorrow is this run. It would be a pretty big shot in the arm for Bremerton’s economy and would immediately bring affordable housing 30 minutes closer to downtown Seattle.

    This at least sounds like a much wiser investment then running slow boats to compete with 520, 522, and the Ballard Bridge

      1. I do recall these ferries, I also know that Kitsap has been working hard ever sense to restore service because of how much it would help their economy.

        They’ve also developed boats that avoid the erosion issue which is the main reason they were shut down. Read more about their plan here:

        http://thenorthwesturbanist.com/2015/01/20/kitsap-transit-plans-to-revive-high-speed-ferries/

        Unlike boats crossing Lake Washington or going from Ballard to Downtown, a high speed boat run from Bremerton to Seattle is highly competitive with all other available alternative modes.

      2. Yep, Kitsap is full speed ahead on reviving passenger service with low wake vessels.

        http://kitsapferries.com/

        The main debate now is who’s going to vote on/pay for it. The operations are likely to be contracted out to King county regardless. It’d be a big boost to Bremerton to get fast passenger service back: that downtown is very walkable and has lots of untapped development potential.

      3. @Ron Swanson

        My point exactly. This is a plan that is ready to go now:

        – They already have a dock
        – They already have a boat
        – They just need $$ to fund service.

        If King county wants to waste $$ on more ferries, they could do a lot worse than investing in the Bremerton foot ferry plan. It already has a proven ridership base on the Washington State Ferry. From day one, these boats would be so full that Kitsap was already talking about having a reservation system to make sure commuters could reliably have a seat.

      4. “beach erosion issues caused by the boats limited speeds”

        Beach erosion issues that caused the boats’ speeds to be limited

      5. I am highly skeptical of the utility of running a passenger-only ferry between the same set of terminal points as the car ferry that is already running. The car ferry is so big (to fit all those cars) that it, by necessity has a huge amount of under-utilized passenger space – space which can be filled at zero marginal cost to taxpayers. To operate a whole separate boat just to save a few minutes per trip is not a good use of limited funds. If Kitsap has extra to spend, improving the level of service for the buses on their side, once you get off the ferry, would be much better.

      6. @asdf its not just a few minutes per trip. It cuts the trip length roughly in half, saving about 30 minutes.

        That’s why the boats would be full. That’s why it would drive up the number of folks living there. It makes an otherwise long commute a bareable length.

      7. @RossB The initial plan was not for a lot of frequency by itself, but as an express commuter service. Eventually they would add more service if it turned out to be successful.

        There is however a frequency boost if you count these express runs in addition to the existing WSF runs.

        Remember, the existing ferry system only has one run per hour at best. Often there are two or more hours between runs. Addition additional runs that are pedestrian only increases reliability in addition to making the trip faster for these express runs.

      8. I see the point, but the fact remains that with the car ferry providing effectively infinite passenger capacity, at zero marginal cost, the huge cost of operating an additional boat just for more convenient service is not worth it. However many people the extra boat would carry, infinity plus a finite number is still infinity. Nor do we need a premium service to get people out of their cars, as the hour-long Bremerton->Seattle ride still beats driving all the way around to Tacoma and back. And the cost numbers only get worse if the huge capital expense of buying the boat gets amortized over just 1-2 round trips per day, 5 days a week.

        Nor is living all the way out by Bremerton and commuting to Seattle every day something we want to encourage. Unless Bremerton is planning some massive upzones by the ferry terminal, the development would be entirely sprawl, and the number of people who could use the ferry every day would still be effectively limited by the number of parking spaces.

      9. The car ferry capacity for passengers is large, but it is finite. They need to have a life preserver for everyone aboard. I have no idea how close the boats are to that capacity; but passnger-only ferries can make the crossing faster, and more often. Since they can be considered a premium service, so they could command higher fares.

        If you’re worried about amortization of costs, maybe it makes more sense to run a passenger boat during off-peak hours and the car ferry mostly during the peaks.

  10. I don’t see anybody doing anything maritime anytime soon. Or much else, either. But given present extremely fast growth and the highway blockage it’s causing, it’s never too early to investigate what’s possible that could someday be necessary.

    So I’d like to see less panic over what won’t happen soon, than preparation for what will have to happen eventually. For instance, not only necessary boats, but traffic control.

    I also think that what we don’t need locally right now, we could use along the coast a lot sooner. Worldwide, there are high-speed passenger craft, including hydrofoils, covering distances very much like Everett to Tacoma to Olympia.

    Delegation to the Baltic countries will be in electric rail distance to Finland, where there’s both a lot of real-time boating and also a great streetcar system in Helsinki.

    Mark Dublin

  11. “The West Seattle Water Taxi which does operate on summer weekends has very lopsided ridership. 1,400 riders use that water taxi daily on summer weekends. That falls to 642 on summer weekdays, and only 55 on off-season weekdays.”

    55 really? That seems like a very severe drop off from the summer. Also suggests that there are only ~55 regular commuters, which seems low to me, unless they use some other route in the winter.

    If those numbers are indeed correct, the WSWT is on par with Route 42 for wastefulness. This is a ridiculous use of tax money – we could support much more valuable bus service instead.

      1. It’s essentially all peak hour. The winter schedule has 13 daily runs each way, with departures all between 6.15AM and 8.45AM, or between 3.45PM – 7PM.

        Not much appeal for recreational riders there. There may be some seasonal commuters too. I imagine not every commuter wants to be on the water in January.

        Here’s the schedule. The summer schedule has hourly all-day service including weekends.

      2. 55 riders, 13 trips each way. That is an average of just over 2 riders per trip.

        Staggeringly terrible. I doubt the reverse-commute trips get more than a few riders in total.

        Might as well set money on fire…

    1. I second this and wonder about the methodology for this 55 number. I spent six months living in Admiral and used the ferry as my main commute method all of last winter. It was certainly lightly used, but 55 daily rides seems like an error.

      Aesthetically, the West Seattle Water Taxi is one of the finest forms of public transportation in America, but like others have said, we’ve got a hard enough time selling people on paying taxes for more useful transit without investing in vanity projects. I know Westneat gets held up as an anti-transit zealot, but I think he’s like a lot of people – open to transit investments that actually get people from Point A to Point B. If we can’t get the Westneats of the world to be on board, we won’t get far.

      1. So, there is an error in the number. Those are recreational rider counts, not total (there was some analysis to estimate the recreational rider share of total). My error in interpreting the original.

        Total ridership is lopsided too, but not so much as recreational because the commute market is more stable. The more extensive service in summer plays a role too.

    2. Wow, that is a world of difference. I think the text here is really confusing. Why not just link to the current numbers. They can be found by going to http://www.kingcounty.gov/transportation/kcdot/WaterTaxi/AboutUs.aspx, then selecting the “Ridership” column, then “West Seattle Ridership”. Unfortunately there is no static link to the data, so I took a screen shot and copied it here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BzMmVnyzoffDSXI2clhoUUJqc1k/view

      Ignore the trends for a second, and just look at that 2015 column. It goes way up in the summer, and way down in the winter. But the Spring and Fall numbers aren’t that bad Ridership jumps in April, and then takes a huge dive in November. October isn’t exactly a wonderful month around here. The obvious reason for the big jump and the big dive is because service is changed. No surprise there — that is the way all transit works — add more service, get more riders.

      Like Link, this does have a strong increase during the summer. That really isn’t news. This may have a bit more pronounced summer bump (Alki is Alki) but the biggest jump is obviously due to the service changes, not the changing of the seasons.

      All of this means that adding service to West Seattle might be a good idea. The numbers aren’t great, but they aren’t terrible, and they aren’t so “fair weather” driven as to be only justified in the summer.

  12. Why is it called a Water “Taxi?” A taxi is something you can hail or call to pick you up and take you wherever you want to go. This is a shuttle, not a taxi

      1. I agree. SeaBus is a better name. West Seattle already has a ferry dock on the other side (Google “West Seattle Ferry” and that is what shows up) so I can see why they wanted to differentiate it. Personally, I would go with West Seattle Passenger Ferry — not exactly a marketer’s dream, but pretty clear what it is.

    1. Routed taxis exist in some countries. They’re vans that run between fixed stops whenever they fill up, and are used to extend the metro network (Russia) or in countries where regular public transit doesn’t exist (South Africa, Nigeria, other developing countries). So “water taxi” makes some sense, and the term may have been used elsewhere, and it sounds nice, like water buffalo. SeaBus is just silly: a ferry is not a bus. Although that didn’t stop Airbus from using the name.

    2. Anybody thought about “Water Uber” or “Water Lyfft?” Tugboats usually have rubber cushions around the bub that could be dyed purple.

      Mak

  13. Ferries are not very ‘green’ when it comes to transportation, even passenger-only ones.

    Passenger-only ferries also require some pretty long delays in docking and in moving hundreds of people. In this context, the longer the route distance, the better the likelihood of the ferry as a useful alternative emerges — particularly if there are food and drink services on board.

    This study was done by King County, which isn’t exactly geographically set up for the market for this. The possible routes just seem too short! Compare that to the Victoria Clipper, which seems to even be commercially (no subsidy) viable

    A better ferry strategy would probably be between Downtown Seattle and smaller cities in other counties like Tacoma, Olympia, Bremerton, Bellingham. That would move it over to either the state or ST as the transit entity, and there seems to be institutional interest for that.

    1. Of those, the Seattle – Bremerton route is the only one that would work from day one. They have everything but the funds and authority to run the route. They’d even be relying on KCMetro to run the boats for them.

      Its probably the only ferry route in the whole region that makes any sense to invest public money in at all. The privately funded routes (Clipper, Argosy) are already taking care of themselves.

      Either invest the money in things that will make a difference, or don’t invest it at all.

    2. A high speed ferry (no faster than the Victoria Clipper) would be competitive for Tacoma travel. It would get from Tacoma to Seattle in under an hour, not counting docking. That is still pretty slow compared to a bus in the middle of the day, but about the same as Sounder, and faster than Link.

      Part of the problem in general is that a lot of places don’t have good docks. They are located well away from the center of town. Alki Point would be much better than the current dock in West Seattle, while serving Tacoma would require a huge bridge over the railroad tracks and Shuster Parkway (on 9th maybe?). That would be really cool, but it wouldn’t be cheap, and a bus would still probably be faster and more frequent.

    1. Really, the Vikings used boats for funerals and cremation. Would be a really bad joke to start mooring dragon-ships just of Medina and doing that.

      Though danger is that spirits of these people might come back to get even. In legend, this would be what always happens. So why not moor them on the Hood Canal for torpedo practice?

      Mark

  14. Some places do very well with foot ferries. Witness the False Creek Ferries in Vancouver.

    Of course, that requires frequent, small boats with a single operator and something like 300 times the activity density that Kirkland has, as well as a 20 mile long waterfront trail that connects most of the ferry docks to dense housing and commercial areas.

    1. Ya, I’ve often wondered why the False Creek model wouldn’t work on, say, greater Lake Union. Obviously some infrastructure would be required.(docks), but that shouldn’t be that hard.

      1. Most of the density on Lake Union is along the East or West sides, and nearly all of the traffic is traveling North/South. Eastlake and Westlake Ave are the natural corridors for travel and are well served by buses.

        A ferry serving this demand would not compete well with those buses in all but the worst traffic that we only see here a handful of times per year.

        I can’t see how that would be worth the city investing in.

      2. Compare Lake Union with, say, Olympic Village. South Lake Union is getting there, but False Creek just as a lot of demand from one end to the other, plus several SkyTrain stations, but no bus routes that are that convenient to some places.

      3. Density along Lake Union? Where? The west shore is a few maritime businesses. The east shore is houses and apartments. The southeast shore is a marina and I guess sort of Fred Hutch. So you want a ferry from Gasworks Park to Fred Hutch, or the Marina Mart to Fred Hutch?

  15. Let’s remember it was Admiral Dow that Black Ball’d the ferry levy into existence by holding the flood control district hostage. What these studies prove is that King County has w-a-y too much money to play with. Any further expense should be spent on keelhauling all public officials that vote to spend another dime wasting time even talking about this at a public meeting.

    1. This sound like a job for Matt-Mobiles ™. Can the towers float like our bridges do?
      Another first for Seattle too.

    1. Discussed above: https://seattletransitblog.com/2016/02/23/where-now-for-the-water-taxi-expansion/#comment-694039

      My take: https://seattletransitblog.com/2016/02/23/where-now-for-the-water-taxi-expansion/#comment-694328

      I think this article is a bit cluttered. The new ferry routes clearly don’t make much sense. But the West Seattle ferry has had some success. Not a lot, but some. An argument can be made to increase service there. Maybe 15 minute service during commute time, or extending the “summer hours” to year round.

  16. Boat. noun. Hole in the water into which one dumps money while slowly going nowhere at great expense.

  17. I take the 17 from Pioneer Square to about Market/32nd every day and it is more like a 40-55 minute ride in the PM peak. Certainly not 28 minutes. That said, I don’t see much value in a Ballard-Downtown ferry. Invest those service subsidy dollars into more runs of the 17 and 18, which are standing room only. Far more cost effective. Also, ferries take a while to load and unload. Feel like you’d have to show up earlier for a ferry than one does for the bus.

  18. Search above for Mattmobiles, and enjoy musing about gondolas radiating from Seattle Center like spokes on a wheel, or up Yesler.
    Just part of the AA process. I imagine the Coast Guard would have some objections, and then there’s that tide thing.
    ps, Where did Matt go?

  19. I agree with Nolan Void, dustbin, and Bruce Nourish, boondoggle, etc. It’s not only high cost and low ridership, but it takes longer than land transportation, and that’s saying something given how congested, for instance, SR-522 is (the Kenmore to UW ferry option is the alternative for a surface route on this highway).

    Evidently, the county has too much money, and it would be advisable for them to redirect their “surplus” to where they would get more bang for their buck, such as selective queue jumps, rider amenities, and additional trips for the transit service along the SR-522 corridor…or, a BRT line (there is the frequency along the corridor, but not the branded buses and stations).

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