New record: Ridership soaring on the water taxi!

Middle of last week it happened. Most people were quietly commuting on the water taxi into downtown Seattle when history was made!

Thanks to riders, the 2015 record of 515,207 boardings was broken last Wednesday. With more than two months of service left in 2016, there’s a chance ridership might top 600,000.

GIF of water taxi photo overlaid with image of ridership 2013, 2014 and 2015, and 515,000 record broken in October 2016.Since starting service as the King County Ferry District in 2009, the Water Taxi has carried nearly 3.4 million riders.

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.

“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. 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.”

– King County Executive Dow Constantine

“Record ridership on the King County Water Taxi underscores the tremendous need for local transit options in our region. 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.”

– King County Council Chair Joe McDermott

“The King County Water Taxi is a regional asset used by more than a half million people annually – and ridership continues to grow. 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.”

– Seattle City Councilmember Lorena González

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.

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