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King County Executive
Dow Constantine


King County Water Taxi sets new ridership record as more commuters ride the waves

Summary

The King County Water Taxi celebrated a milestone as ridership surpassed last year’s annual record of more than a half million boardings. The Water Taxi serves riders from Vashon Island and West Seattle, providing reliable and frequent service to downtown Seattle. The Water Taxi is just one of many transit innovations across King County.

Story

The King County Water Taxi last week surpassed the 2015 total of more than 515,000 boardings, with more than two months of service still left in 2016.

Ridership is expected to top 600,000 by year’s end, which would be an 84 percent increase over 2009 ridership. Since starting service as the King County Ferry District, the Water Taxi has carried nearly 3.4 million riders.

Ridership has grown steadily during the past several years as riders take advantage of the congestion-free commute between downtown Seattle and Vashon Island and West Seattle. Two new vessels are still early in their careers serving the public: the MV Sally Fox began service in 2015 and primarily serves the Vashon Island route, the MV Doc Maynard began service in January and primarily serves West Seattle.

“When we think about transit, we must be creative. It’s about moving people where they need to be reliably, efficiently, quickly – by bus, vanpool, or shuttle,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “The Water Taxi manages to accomplish something more. It provides commuters, sports fans, and families with unparalleled beauty, a voyage that many riders wish could last a few minutes longer every trip. It’s a regional treasure that also answers a unique transportation challenge.”

“Record ridership on the King County Water Taxi underscores the tremendous need for local transit options in our region,” said King County Council Chair Joe McDermott. “With thousands of new residents coming to King County each year, we must preserve and expand services that help people get where they need to be, reliably and quickly.”

“The King County Water Taxi is a regional asset used by more than a half million people annually – and ridership continues to grow,” said Seattle City Councilmember Lorena González. “I’m one of those riders, and I can say that the Water Taxi is great way to skip traffic and enjoy Elliott Bay at any time of the year. It’s fast, reliable, and relaxing – the best way to get to work or a game.”
The West Seattle route accounted for 339,479 riders so far this year; 175,575 riders took the Vashon Island water taxi. 

There were several spikes in 2016:

• During the Alaskan Way Viaduct closure for several days in April and May, riders used the Water Taxi as an alternative to traveling heavily congested city streets – and ridership increased by more than 16,000.
• Strong summertime ridership – including commuters and sightseers – also fueled the record this year. More than 24,000 additional riders boarded during June, July and August compared to summer 2015.

The Marine Division is part of the King County Department of Transportation, which also includes Metro Transit. Metro continues to explore and expand transportation options across King County, including van pools, shuttles and service in rural areas, connecting riders across the growing regional network. On October 31, the West Seattle route will start its Water Taxi winter service schedule.  Service is Monday through Friday during commute hours.  The Vashon route runs year-round Monday through Friday providing commute hour service.  Ridership during the commute sailings is up 27.3 percent over 2015 on the West Seattle route and 11.2 percent over 2015 on the Vashon route. 

King County Executive Dow Constantine has included permanent funding for the King County Water Taxi in his proposed biennial budget now before the King County Council. This investment is part of King County’s commitment to providing residents with fast, efficient alternatives to the automobile.


MARINE-ridership_Oct16


Relevant links


Quotes

When we think about transit, we must be creative. It’s about moving people where they need to be reliably, efficiently, quickly – by bus, vanpool, or shuttle,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “The Water Taxi manages to accomplish something more. It provides commuters, sports fans, and families with unparalleled beauty, a voyage that many riders wish could last a few minutes longer every trip. It’s a regional treasure that also answers a unique transportation challenge.

Dow Constantine, King County Executive

Record ridership on the King County Water Taxi underscores the tremendous need for local transit options in our region,” said King County Council Chair Joe McDermott. “With thousands of new residents coming to King County each year, we must preserve and expand services that help people get where they need to be, reliably and quickly.

Joe McDermott, King County Council Chair

The King County Water Taxi is a regional asset used by more than a half million people annually – and ridership continues to grow,” said Seattle City Councilmember Lorena González. “I’m one of those riders, and I can say that the Water Taxi is great way to skip traffic and enjoy Elliott Bay at any time of the year. It’s fast, reliable, and relaxing – the best way to get to work or a game.

Lorena González, Seattle City Councilmember

For more information, contact:

Alex Fryer, Executive Office, 206-477-7966


King County Executive
Dow Constantine
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