Credit: Bruce Engelhardt

Add another workaround to the list of fixes for the Period of Maximum Constraint Seattle Squeeze Carpocalypse: King County is increasing the number of Water Taxi ferry sailings between West Seattle and Downtown.

The Water Taxi is adding an additional vessel starting on January 14, which will allow the following service improvements between then and March 27:

  • Ferries will run the 10 minute route with 20 minute headways, instead of the present 35 minutes
  • The number of peak sailings will double from six to twelve
  • New, hourly off-peak, midday sailings will run between 11:25 AM and 3 PM

King County’s release also mentions “additional parking available on Harbor Ave SW, SW Bronson Way, and Pier 2 with free shuttle connector,” and “no charge for bikes onboard, additional bike parking available at Seacrest Park.”

Metro will set up additional last mile service to get passengers on board the new boat. As Bruce wrote on Tuesday, Metro is rolling out app-dispatched Ride2 shuttle service to the West Seattle dock, along with additional bus service on Routes 773 and 775 from the Junction and Admiral District/Alki, respectively.

The Water Taxi will undoubtedly be a more reliable, and likely faster, mode than the bus. As Metro head of service development Bill Bryant told STB in October, travel times for the Sodo segment of West Seattle buses is likely to increase by 50 to 100 percent.

Find maps for 773 and 775 buses and Ride2 here, plus timetables for the buses.

Learn more about Metro’s revised bus service plan for the Viaduct closure here.

We’ll create a more comprehensive post rounding up all updated Downtown transit service on the eve of the Carpocalypse.

29 Replies to “Metro boosting Water Taxi service during viaduct closure”

  1. If the WSDOT car ferries can be converted to hybrid or electric power over the next few years, can the same be done for the water taxi? One would think that electrifying the water taxi would be technologically easier than electrifying the car ferries, since the boat is smaller and the route distance is less.

    1. A lot of big vessels like the ferries run on diesel-electric propulsion systems where electric motors actually spin the propeller. So you’re sort of just replacing diesel generators with battery power. I’m not sure with the water taxi, but that size ship it’s a lot more likely the engines mechanically drive the prop making it a much bigger change.

      1. Only the biggest WSF boats, super and jumbo and jumbo mk2 classes are diesel electric, it’s the jumbo mk2 that are slated to be converted. The super class are starting to retire soon so it’s not a good place to spend $$$. All other boats, including these little passenger ferries are direct drive diesel with controllable pitch propellers or water jets. The flight 2 Olympics will have to be significantly modified from a propulsion perspective to be electric for example and might be considered an entirely different class.

  2. ‘As Metro head of service development Bill Bryant told STB in October, travel times for the Sodo segment of West Seattle buses is likely to increase by 50 to 100 percent.”

    This is absolutely ridiculous when they could easily have added a bus-only lane on 4th (even if it is temporary). I live right on the C-line so I can either waste my time diverting to the water taxi or sit in traffic on a bus. Simply unacceptable.

    1. Right, Metro can’t create a bus-only lane on its own. Seattle is looking at the impact on all the users, not just transit riders, and believes that minimizing SOV bottlenecks is more important getting buses out of traffic, because most people drive, most voters drive, and “the important people” drive.

      1. Mike, I think this is going to be an excellent test of my own prediction about mode change from cars to transit.

        Motivation won’t be either fuel or its own unique pollution, but rather the fact that due to sheer numbers, your car will be absolutely slowest way to get anywhere.

        Acing out both crawling and digging a tunnel with one of those Army colored pointy folding shovels.

        And nationwide including South Lake Union, isn’t there a hundred percent correlation between income level and both an urban address and its closest transit station?

        At this stage, I think our own best approach is to wait, look, watch, and prepare. The worse things get, the easier it’ll be to get things changed.


      2. “And nationwide including South Lake Union, isn’t there a hundred percent correlation between income level and both an urban address and its closest transit station?”

        Yes, the amazing thing is that even though people say up and down that they want a large house and yard and they prefer shopping centers at freeway exits that have free parking, they vote with their dollars for walkable locations near frequent transt. The price per square foot is the highest next to inner-city subway stations. The same thing happens in Moscow and Zurich where the highest price-per-size units are within five minutes of a metro station, then it drops a bit, then units on streetcar lines are less, then units on outer autobus lines are less, and they don’t have any non-walkable no-transit areas to comare to ours. Of course waterfront and view lots and prestigious mansions are exceptions, but that’s how it generally works. And the same thing happens in Seattle and Bellevue and South King County; it’s just that the differences are more dramatic here because there’s so little housing within a ten-minute walk of a Link station with a wide variety of mixed-use businesses around it, so the people who want it here have to compete harder for it and pay more and that makes the spread wider.

      3. People want a large house with a yard AND walkable amenities AND a short commute. People move to the ‘burbs because they can’t afford all that and choose one vs the other. Most people get none of the above.

    2. I hope you live south of the Junction on the C Line, otherwise you likely won’t be able to get aboard. The massively longer round trip time will cause frequency to plummet, and the buses are already packed at rush hour today, so a ton of riders will get left behind. :(

      1. I live on the last stop of the C-line so I am already used to having full busses pass me on normal days. The whole thing is just an incredible joke, there is nothing to stop the city from making the C-line FASTER than usual during this Viaduct mess by giving it dedicated lanes all the way to downtown, which is the logical thing to do when all indications are that ridership will see a massive temporary increase.

        Mike is right, all of the mitigation is aimed at non-transit riders…nothing is being done for the ~10,000 people who take buses every day from West Seattle/Delridge to downtown and back.

      2. You’re right about the classic attitude – that Onion article has a mid-80s photo of 405 near the Kirkland NE 85th exit! :)

  3. Free rides to the water taxi is great. The water taxi fares will still be sticker shock for bus riders shifting to the water taxi. That’s $10 per day, or $180 for monthly passes for each month involved. LIFT is a slight reduction to $7.50 per day, or $135 per month.

    1. Thanks, asdf2. Whole long line of “waitaminutes” here. How about we re-stripe the bullseye with a sliding income scale? Or maybe better, adjust by occupation.

      Worse I’m bleeding, choking, or on fire, the more I’ll need a nurse, and the less a doctor. Or a (name your favorite trade who can also work at home or in a cafe.)

      We seriously could get a Portland-style aerial tramway from the Pioneer Square station to Harborview. Relatively fast to build, and valuable legacy. But also, the old Mosquito Fleet used much smaller and simpler boats.

      If that takes a control tower like Sea-Tac Airport, much worth it.


  4. The 773/775 routes run on minibuses — will be expanded to actual buses during Carpocalypse? I predict overcrowding on the vans. I sent off a tweet to Metro, no response.

  5. I’m pretty sure the Water Taxi is separate from Metro. It’s run by the Marine Division of the KC DOT. Both are divisions of KC DOT, but Metro doesn’t run or control anything about the Water Taxi.

  6. The water taxi has midday hourly service from April to October, so this is not unprecedented, just extending the summer span through the winter.

  7. Love “Carpocalypse.” From Book of Revelations, last chapter. We therefore have to look over the people most responsible for what’s going to happen next, and see who represents War, Famine, Death, Conquest, and Disease.

    BUT: We’ll know when we’ve gone into Carpocalypse Now (Marlon Brando, 1979 book it was taken from, Heart of Darkness, was more realistic, including the Viet Nam scenes based on things that happened in the Congo) when Harborview and the Guard give us helicopters with 3 and 4 on dot-signs.

    Working on electrifying them, but problem is how to give them trolleypoles. Long cable with some kind of roller of the end could work better. Important thing is “Ride of the Valkyries” on the outside PA.

    “The horror. The horror”. Last words in the book, but we’re just getting started.


  8. OK, that’s five, but disease probably already grandfathered in. In case anybody in the main group step on a mine, starve, die, or get conquered, or just get sick of Seattle and move to Centralia.


  9. “Carpocalypse” reminds me of the freeway closure in Los Angeles dubbed “Carmaggedon.” The hype scared so many drivers off the road that it wasn’t Armageddon like at all.

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