(The Center Square) – King County announced it will maintain year-round services on its water taxi to and from West Seattle.
During the fall and winter seasons prior to 2021, the county’s West Seattle water taxi service was limited. The taxi connection West Seattle to the Downtown Seattle area would only sail during commute hours with no midday service.
In September 2021, King County’s water taxi services started a pilot program that provided midday sailings during the repair of the West Seattle High Bridge. The program was funded by the Seattle Department of Transportation.
As the water taxi year-round pilot program continued in 2022, the county found that ridership levels were enough to recommend maintaining sailings throughout the year.
Permanent services are being funded by the King County Marine Division. According to the King County 2023-2024 budget, approximately $2.1 million is dedicated to providing consistent year-round service, including permanent staffing rather than a seasonal workforce, which the county said has caused retention issues and loss of trained employees in the past.
“The water taxi continues to deliver a reliable, enjoyable ride as part of Seattle’s transit infrastructure,” King County Executive Dow Constantine said in a statement. “Maintaining seven-day-a-week service creates a regular option that allows people to stay out of their cars and get where they need to go.”
Data from King County Metro shows that average weekday ridership rates on the West Seattle water taxi have remained somewhat stagnant. January 2023 saw 123 more average weekday boardings compared to January 2022. However, from February through April, ridership rates decreased from 2022 to 2023.
The water taxi will make its services maintain a year-round midday and weekend sailing schedule starting Oct. 16. West Seattle Water Taxi adult fares are $5.75 one way, or $5 with an ORCA card. Users under the age of 18 are able to ride for free.