Frequently Asked Questions
What is the King County Ferry District?
The King County Ferry District is an independent government agency created to expand transportation options through water taxi services. King County Council members are the Ferry District Board of Supervisors.
The Ferry District funds and oversees the operations of two existing routes under the name King County Water Taxi, and has considered demonstration routes in other King County communities. The Ferry District contracts with the King County Marine Division for operations.
Why was the King County Ferry District created?
The King County Ferry District was created to develop and oversee water taxi services to provide more transportation options. Water taxis (sometimes called "passenger or foot ferries") can play an important role in helping to relieve traffic congestion while reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions. When major construction begins on the Alaskan Way Viaduct, the King County Water Taxi will provide valuable travel alternatives to thousands of passengers.
Water taxis can also promote economic development and provide tourism opportunities. And, they can provide an alternative mode of transportation when weather shuts down major thoroughfares, such as during the record snowfall that pummeled the Puget Sound region during December 2008 and the heavy rainstorms that flooded highways only weeks later. Finally, water taxis have served major roles in disaster relief. Water taxis played a critical role in the evacuation of the downtown Manhattan area on 9/11 and continued to move commuters to and from Manhattan until the subway was repaired and service restored. They also rescued people from the Hudson River when a commercial airplane carrying 155 passengers was forced to make an emergency landing in the river.
How is the King County Ferry District funded?
On Monday, November 9, 2009, the King County Ferry District Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the 2010 work plan and budget. In light of the tough economic times, the Board lowered the property tax rate for the Ferry District to $1.8 million, translating to 1/3 of one cent per $1,000 of assessed valuation to be collected in 2010. This new rate amounts to approximately $1.20 per year for a $400,000 home. Previously, the King County Ferry District had been funded by 5.5 cent per $1,000 assessed value property tax which was levied beginning January 1, 2008.
The state passenger ferry account, federal grants, passenger fares, advertising and other promotional activities provide additional revenue.
What is the King County Water Taxi?
"King County Water Taxi" is the name for the services provided by the King County Ferry District. King County Water Taxi services currently include:
Water taxi service between West Seattle and Downtown Seattle
Water taxi service between Vashon Island and Downtown Seattle
Free transit shuttles (routes 773 and 775) in West Seattle.
Where do King County Water Taxis operate?
The King County Ferry District currently operates two routes:
King County Water Taxi: West Seattle/Downtown Seattle route
King County Water Taxi 2011 service between West Seattle (SeacrestPark) and downtown Seattle (Pier 50) started on January 3. The service is now operated by the King County Marine Division. The service provided on this route was previously referred to as the Elliott Bay Water Taxi.
King County Water Taxi: Vashon Island/Downtown Seattle route
When the Washington State Legislature cut funding for passenger ferry service, the King County Ferry District stepped in to ensure passenger ferry service continued between Vashon Island (Vashon Ferry Terminal) and downtown Seattle (Pier 50). Operations for this service are now provided by the King County Marine Division.
Will there be schedule changes to the King County Water Taxi's West Seattle and Vashon routes?
The King County Ferry District recently added additional service for the Vashon Island/ Downtown Seattle route (now there are three peak commute trips, each way, daily). The West Seattle/Downtown Seattle route is began year-round operation on January 3, 2011.
What types of vessels will be used on the routes?
A new leased vessel (the M.V Rachel Marie) is now being used on the West Seattle/Downtown Seattle route. The "Rachel Marie" is a 150-passenger, double-hulled catamaran. A sister ship, called the "Melissa Ann", serves the Vashon Island/Downtown Seattle route. It also is rated to carry 150 passengers.
King County Water Taxi vessels have accessible restrooms, adequate shelter and wheelchair tie-downs as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). However, access from dock level to vessel decks for passenger ferries may still be a challenge for some customers because boat ramps providing deck access can be dramatically affected by tides. Please ask deckhands for assistance.
How will the water taxis be maintained?
Vessel maintenance is conducted with an eye toward safety, cleanliness and convenience for passengers. Maintenance is currently included as part of the service agreement with our operator, the King County Marine Division.
How much does it cost to ride a water taxi?
The King County Ferry District annually adjusts Water Taxi fares. Fares vary depending on the route and type of customer. The King County Water Taxi will participate in regional fare integration initiatives whenever possible. Passengers pay each way as they board the vessel. Boarding is on a first come, first serve basis. No advanced ticket sales are available.
The rates below reflect 2011 policies. Please visit the King County Water Taxi for additional information about fares.
King County Water Taxi: West Seattle/Downtown Seattle route:
Passengers will pay the following one-way fares as they board the vessel in West Seattle or in downtown Seattle:
$4.00 - Cash fare
$3.50 - Regular pre-paid fare (transit passes and ORCA E-purse)
$1.75 - Seniors (65 and older) and people with disabilities who have a Regional Reduced Fare Permit. This fare applies whether you are using cash or an ORCA card
$2.75 - Youth fare (ages 6-18 with valid ORCA Youth Card for payment)
Free - Children age 5 and under
You may use a PugetPass, ORCA card or cash to pay King County Water Taxi fares. As you board the vessel, either show your PugetPass, tap your ORCA card on the card reader held by a crew member, or deposit the exact cash fare in the fare box. No change will be given to passengers who pay cash fares. There are no change or ticket machines at the West Seattle or Downtown Seattle ferry terminals.
King County Water Taxi: Vashon/Downtown Seattle route:
Passengers will pay the following one-way fares as they board the vessel on Vashon or in downtown Seattle:
$5.00 - Cash fare
$4.25 - Regular pre-paid fare (transit passes and ORCA E-purse)
$2.25 - Seniors (age 65 and older) and persons with disabilities with a Regional Reduced Fare Permit. This fare applies when using either cash or ORCA
$3.25 - Youth fare (ages 6-18 with valid ORCA Youth Card for payment)
Free - Children age 5 and under
You may use a PugetPass, ORCA card, or cash to pay King County Water Taxi fares. As you board the vessel, either show your PugetPass, tap your ORCA card on the card reader held by a crew member, or deposit the exact cash fare in the fare box. No change will be given to passengers who pay cash fares. There are no change or ticket machines at the Vashon or Seattle ferry terminals.
How often will the water taxis operate?
The King County Water Taxi's Vashon/Downtown Seattle route connects Vashon Island and Downtown Seattle, Monday through Friday, during peak commute periods. There are three peak commute trips during morning and evening commuting periods.
Service on King County Water Taxi's West Seattle/Downtown Seattle route operates year-round, during weekday commuter periods only. From early April through October, the service expands to include 7-day a week operations including: commuter hours, mid-day, weekends and expanded evening service on Fridays, Saturdays and on both Mariner and Sounder game days.
Detailed schedule information is available on the King County Marine Division website.
Will parking be available?
There is no on-site parking available near any of the terminals, but free shuttle service or connections to landside transit are available.
Free shuttle services (Routes 773 and 775) are provided in West Seattle between Seacrest Dock and the Admiral District, Alki Point and West Seattle Junction. There is also limited on-street parking adjacent to the Seacrest Dock
For the Vashon/Downtown Seattle route, parking is available about one block away from the terminal, and park-and-ride lots are available on Vashon Island for the convenience of passengers
In downtown Seattle, short and long-term paid parking is available near Pier 50 in the vicinity of Colman Dock.
Will the water taxis be coordinated with bus service?
The Ferry District works closely with King County Metro to coordinate bus schedules. Metro Transit routes 118, 119 and 116 provide connections to arriving and departing Water Taxi sailings on Vashon Island.
Free shuttle service is available to King County Water Taxi riders in West Seattle. Routes 773 and 775 connect Seacrest Dock and the Admiral District, Alki Point and West Seattle Junction.
In downtown Seattle, the Water Taxi docks at Pier 50 (just south of Colman Dock) where it is be served by Metro Transit Routes 16, 66 and 99 and is within a quarter-mile of dozens of additional transit connections.
Can I bring my bike on the ferry?
Bikes are welcome on-board both routes at no additional fee.
Where can I get information about operations, schedules, parking, etc?
Please visit the King County Water Taxi website.
How do I provide comments about fares, schedules, operations or passenger amenities?
We welcome comments about King County Water Taxi services. To provide feedback, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-684-1551.
For information about the King County Ferry District:
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