By Paul Brodeur, Marine Division Director
By the time the sun set on 2016, King County Water Taxi saw the largest annual ridership increase in our history.
Year-end counts show a record 601,942 boardings – a figure that shatters our previous record of 515,207 in 2015.
That also represents a record increase of 86,735 riders – almost 17 percent – over the previous year. It’s the single-largest jump in terms of number of riders since we began service as the King County Ferry District in 2009.
A closer look at the numbers finds that:
- Our West Seattle route saw 380,396 boardings, a spike of 67,049 riders, or 21.4 percent from 2015. Both figures represent some of the largest year-to-year increases since we began service.
- Our Vashon Island route saw 221,546 boardings, a jump of 19,686 riders, or 10 percent from 2015. Again, both figures represent some of the largest increases in this route’s history.
A handful of busy periods throughout the year also contributed to the increases:
- 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.
We’re just as proud that despite the record increase in riders, King County Water Taxi maintained a near-perfect record of reliability in 2016. We made all but 13 of the 13,604 scheduled trips, or 99.9 percent. The handful we canceled were due to weather, mechanical and other issues.
As far as being on time, well, again our record speaks for itself. Of the 13,591 trips completed in 2016, more than 98 percent were on time – that’s right, 98 percent!
The numbers illustrate how popular the Water Taxi has become for commuters (as well as how amazing our loyal riders are). In all, the Water Taxi has connected 3.5 million riders between Downtown Seattle, West Seattle and Vashon Island since we began.
We’re a little biased, but we think the Water Taxi will be a great way to get around Puget Sound in 2017. Not only does riding with us eliminate the stress of driving into downtown, but we’re an affordable, efficient way of connecting Seattle to the rest of the region.
Water Taxi is operated by the King County Department of Transportation Marine Division. In November, the King County Council approved the two-year budget proposed by County Executive Dow Constantine that included funding the West Seattle and Vashon Island routes this year and in 2018.
Thank you to everyone who helped us reach these amazing milestones in 2016, and here’s to even better news in 2017.