Skip to main content
King County logo

News

King County Executive
Dow Constantine


King County Water Taxi sets ridership record with more than 700,000 boardings in 2019

Summary

The King County Water Taxi sailed past its previous record of 664,365 boardings in 2018, crossing the 700,000 mark this year.

Story

The King County Water Taxi celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2019 with a record-breaking year of connecting West Seattle and Vashon Island to downtown Seattle. In 2019, the West Seattle Water Taxi’s ridership was 443,993 and the Vashon Island route’s ridership was 257,615, for a grand total of 701,608 boardings.

In comparison, ridership for 2018 was 414,967 in West Seattle and 249,398 for the Vashon Island route. King County Water Taxi has carried 5.4 million riders since starting service for the King County Ferry District in 2009, and this year’s record-setting ridership represents a 115% increase over its humble beginnings.

“It’s no surprise that more and more people are catching on to all that the Water Taxi has to offer – scenic views, ample seating, fast sailings, and zero traffic,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “We’re continually seeking innovative, expanded ways to help our region’s growing population get around, and the Water Taxi is a perfect example of that, providing a creative transportation solution to commuters, local explorers, and visitors alike.”

Ridership graph charts

Though ridership has increased nearly every year, one notable variable contributed to the Water Taxi’s strong performance in 2019.

Throughout the Alaskan Way Viaduct closure in January, the Water Taxi provided a congestion-free alternative to the Seattle Squeeze. During the first Monday commute, 1,350 passengers boarded West Seattle Water Taxi compared to 350 on the same day in 2018. The route maintained double the ridership throughout the closure, up 142% compared to the same dates in 2018.

“From a persistent pilot project to 700,000 riders, the water taxi has proven an integral part of our transit system,” said King County Councilmember Joe McDermott. “During the viaduct closure, the West Seattle route was up 142% as people sought a fast and reliable commute downtown. As more people look for ways to get out of their cars, preserving and expanding water taxi service will be key to our region’s success.”

Annual ridership isn't the only record broken by the Water Taxi. In December 2019, 6,575 people responded to a public survey on possible water taxi expansion, a record for any Metro survey. The survey was requested by the King County Council to consider potential future water taxi service to Ballard and Kenmore. Comprehensive survey results will be transmitted to council in July 2020.

The Water Taxi is part of King County Metro, a mobility agency that continues to innovate and expand transportation options across the region, including van pools, shuttles and service in rural areas, connecting hundreds of thousands of riders across the growing regional network. Metro's service keeps 190,000 cars off the roads each day.


Relevant links


Quotes

It’s no surprise that more and more people are catching on to all that the Water Taxi has to offer – scenic views, ample seating, fast sailings, and zero traffic. We’re continually seeking innovative, expanded ways to help our region’s growing population get around, and the Water Taxi is a perfect example of that, providing a creative transportation solution to commuters, local explorers, and visitors alike.

Dow Constantine, King County Executive

From a persistent pilot project to 700,000 riders, the water taxi has proven an integral part of our transit system. During the viaduct closure, the West Seattle route was up 142% as people sought a fast and reliable commute downtown. As more people look for ways to get out of their cars, preserving and expanding water taxi service will be key to our region’s success.

Joe McDermott, King County Councilmember

For more information, contact:

Chase Gallagher, Executive Office, 206-263-8537
Torie Rynning, King County Metro, 206-549-1895


King County Executive
Dow Constantine
Dow constantine portrait

Read the Executive's biography