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1. King County Water Taxi expansion draws strong interest but no budget or timeline

In December 2019, a survey made the rounds and created buzz among two waterfront communities in the Seattle area. Conducted by King County Metro, the survey intended to gauge interest for expanding its water taxi routes to include Ballard and Kenmore. 

The survey indicated a majority of respondents would be interested in the transit option if “their travel time was as fast or faster than current options.” In total, 6,575 people completed the survey, a higher response rate that usual according to Metro.

Two years later, the proposed expansion project is further defined but not a certainty. 

Read more.
My first passenger-only ferry ride across San Francisco Bay.

2. A perspective on passenger-only ferries 

I rode my first passenger ferry to San Francisco at only a few weeks old, following the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. My mother commuted by a similar ferry from Alameda to San Francisco’s Financial District for years. My former employer Kvichak Marine Industries, now part of Vigor Industrial, built ferries for WETA, the regional transit service that runs the San Francisco Bay Ferries.

Even when I was in awe of Washington State’s automobile ferries, I’ve long wondered why the more passenger ferries weren’t operating in the Seattle region. My interest was instantly piqued when I heard about the survey in 2019. At that time, I’d only ridden the King County Water Taxi once. That sailing was from West Seattle with my mom, a fun trip that reminded us both of past sailings into San Francisco.

After researching this article, I see a few possible trends emerging:
  • The expansion of King County Metro’s Water Taxi could be slowed or limited due to funding, capital infrastructure and comparative costs to land-based services.
  • However, it could also be buoyed by the department’s sustainability efforts, providing a high-capacity, low-emissions transit option.
  • Even without King County Metro expanding its water taxi routes, passenger ferry services in the region could continue to expand through nearby transit operators, such with Kitsap Transit’s Fast-Ferry service.
A regional passenger-only ferry study was also conducted in 2020. More to come from Future Tides on this topic.

Another week has flown by! The last couple of issues are the results of deep dives into public documents, reports and even legislation. I figure if I can summarize some of these dense documents, that's one small service Future Tides can provide.

Something I've heard that frustrates readers is when news organizations fail to follow up on stories  they previously reported on. I have first hand knowledge how this happens between the unrelenting pace of the news cycle, staff capacity and our natural tendency to move on to the next thing.

I've also got limited time but I do believe it's important to circle back and follow up, for both the reader and to keep organizations accountable.

In just the past month, almost every story I've written will warrant a follow up at some time or another. I commit to doing that and welcome you to keep me accountable as well.

Until next week,
- Cara

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