Scenes from the opening day of the new passenger-only ferry terminal at Pier 50

Excitement, wonder, relief. That was the mood of West Seattle and Vashon Island Water Taxi passengers on Monday, Aug. 12, who had their first look at the new passenger-only ferry terminal at Pier 50. After a week-long closure and lack of Water Taxi service, passengers disembarked and walked through the new facility.

Passengers walking up the gangway into the new facility

Passengers disembarked from the Water Taxi and walked up the gangway into the new facility for the first time on Monday, August 12.

Marine Division staff stood near the gangway and encouraged passengers to walk through the facility and take a look around. Free coffee and cookies were offered, and marketing staff and interns handed out squishy boats and updated social media with smiling faces of commuters happy to have the Water Taxi back and a new facility to keep them out of the elements.

Marine Division Director Paul Brodeur greeting passengers disembarking from the Water Taxi

King County Metro Marine Division Director Paul Brodeur greeted passengers as they disembarked from their vessels.

Water Taxi staff greeting passengers and encouraging them to walk through the facility on the opening day

Passengers were encouraged to walk through the facility on the opening day. Cookies and coffee were handed out along with squishy Water Taxi toys. Normally, passengers walk off the gangway and turn to the left to walk along the building on a protected path.

Among the first-day passengers was King County Executive Dow Constantine, who spoke to members of the press and public after disembarking from the MV Doc Maynard. Joined by Bainbridge Island Mayor and Kitsap Transit Board Chair Kol Medina, Executive Constantine spoke about the new terminal and King County’s commitment to expand passenger-only ferry service throughout the region.

King County Executive Dow Constantine speaking at a press conference in Pier 50 on opening day, with Bainbridge Island Mayor Kol Medina

King County Executive Dow Constantine and Bainbridge Island Mayor and Kitsap Transit Board Chair Kol Medina spoke to the press and public on the opening day of the new Pier 50 facility about the future of water transit services.

The new terminal at Pier 50 is fully covered and has capacity for about 500 people, keeping waiting passengers out of the sun, rain, or other weather. Garage door-style windows allow a cool breeze to blow through on muggy days or can be closed to keep out rain or snow in the winter months.

Queuing in line is easier than ever. New stanchions separate each lane and were designed by a local artist to simulate timber piles commonly associated with docks. The stanchions are linked together by blue rope, similar in design to those used to tie boats to docks. Several monitor displays hang from the ceiling, indicating the appropriate lane to stand in depending on which route passengers are taking.

Passengers from the Water Taxi disembark through the terminal

New stanchions were designed by an artist to resemble traditional dock piles. The blue ropes are similar in style to ropes used on docks to tether boats to the dock.

Improvements include tactile paths and signs for the visually impaired, an ADA assistance station, and an elevator to the elevated shared walkway that connects the new facility with the Washington State Ferries terminal (to be opened later this summer).

The mobility assistance station at Pier 50.

A new mobility assistance station is available for those passengers requiring assistance. Pressing the button will alert staff and they will respond shortly.

A man with a visual impairment walks along the new tactile path with a Kitsap Fast Ferries staff member into the new passenger-only ferry facility.

A man with a visual impairment walks along the new tactile path with a Kitsap Fast Ferries staff member into the new passenger-only ferry facility.

As a King County facility, it was important the new terminal be a “green building.” Pier 50 goes above and beyond, earning a “platinum” certification under the King County Green Building Program. Environmental work on the project included capping contaminated sediments, extensive monitoring to minimize impact to marine mammals, and removing over 7,000 tons of creosote-treated timber piles.

If you have not come down to take a trip on the Water Taxi in a while, pop in and take a look around. We promise you will like what you see.

 

6 thoughts on “Scenes from the opening day of the new passenger-only ferry terminal at Pier 50

  1. I was looking for the Vashon Water Taxi on the 19th at 5:30pm. There were no signs. There was no welcoming committee. I was asking people all around and was sent different directions multiple times. There were signs for all the other boat it seemed. I finally googled it and saw this article. Can we get a sign?

  2. Hi Jonathan, I’m sorry you had difficulty the other day. There are now signs next to the appropriate lane for boarding. There are also monitors above the lanes indicating which lane is assigned to each route which will be improved with a software upgrade hopefully in the next few weeks. If you’re ever unsure, terminal staff can direct you to the correct lane.

  3. Hi Randi, the new facility does have seating and it is located just in front of the office area. The facility does not have a restroom in the building. There is restroom access right next door at the new Washington State Ferries facility (set to open in the next few weeks). There is an elevated walkway connecting our facility with the WSF facility, so no need for customers to walk back out onto the sidewalk on Alaskan Way. We also offer restrooms on the vessels. The reason there is not a restroom in our facility is because of both those areas and also due to cost. The cost to the public to build and maintain clean and safe public restrooms in public transit facilities due to staffing requirements is quite high.

  4. I haven’t been through yet, but to clarify, from the Water Taxi facility, I can take an elevated walkway to the WSF terminal and to the Marion St. elevated walkway to avoid having to cross the many confusing lanes of ferry traffic as well as Alaskan Way? Thanks.

  5. Hi Shireen, You will be able to do that once the walkway is open, yes. The walkway will open once the new WSF terminal opens and construction on that section is complete, anticipated very soon.

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