Marine Transportation

Murray Seals Deal On Fast Foot Ferry Trial For Bremerton-Seattle

Thanks to $7.6 million more in federal monies for car and passenger ferries that was secured yesterday by U.S. Senator Patty Murray of Washington, Kitsap Transit will be fully funded for a six month trial run of a high speed, low wake passenger-only ferry to serve the Bremerton-Seattle route. The 118-seat passenger ferry is being manufactured by All American Marine in Bellingham, following authorization in April by the Kitsap Transit board of a $5.3 million construction contract. It’s expected to be built by next March and in operation as soon as next June. Funds to pay for the boat’s manufacture included proceeds from a special bonding arrangement between Kitsap Transit and the county’s housing authority, plus earlier federal grants. Also on the horizon is a passenger-only ferry run between Seattle and Kingston – on the Kitsap Peninsula’s northern tip. The Port of Kingston has $3.5 million in federal money to help launch the service with a new boat but must find funding for a back-up vessel. Here’s a business plan the port presented to the Puget Sound Regional Council (pdf).
This latest federal infusion for ferries in Washington state includes $1.3 million for operations of the new Kitsap Transit foot ferry in the planned six-month trial run, to evaluate how well wake impacts are reduced; and another $1.3 million to prepare the dock to accommodate the vessel, the Kitsap Sun reports today. The $7.6 million also includes $2 million for King County’s passenger ferry district to buy a replacement for the old, slow tour boat used on its popular West Seattle Water Taxi, and $3 million for Washington State Ferries toward upgrading its car ferry terminal in Anacortes, the gateway to the San Juan Islands.
Cascadia Center has consistently championed expanded foot ferries as part of a forward-looking multi-modal transit system for metro Puget Sound. Key touchpoints in this effort include a May, 2008 conference on the Seattle waterfront where another low-wake high-speed foot ferry built by All American Marine was demo’d. Cascadia also organized a July, 2007 foot ferry symposium at Salty’s in West Seattle and in 2003 organized a special trip for policy-makers and opinion leaders to the San Francisco Bay Area to see their extensive foot ferry system in operation.
The completion of funding for the fast foot ferry trial in Bremerton is the latest and most upbeat chapter in a long and drawn-out saga.

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Puget Sound Foot Ferries, New And Old, Find Home In Bay Area

One of the best ways to get around metropolitan regions without a car….is on the water. And you need not own a boat yourself. In the San Francisco Bay Area, there’s an extensive network of passenger-only ferries – they carry people, but not cars. The Bay Area Water Emergency Transit Authority promotes a combined 14 commuter and leisure routes, and is considering more. WETA was created in 2004 to consolidate several long-standing passenger-only ferry routes in the Bay Area, and coordinate emergency response for all. As the “emergency” in the agency’s name implies, one focus is being prepared to deploy foot ferries to connect people and places in case of a natural disaster such as an earthquake, or a terrorist Read More ›

Low-wake Passenger-only Ferry Plans Advance In Kitsap

The Kitsap Sun has the scoop on plans for a pilot project to build, and test with riders, a prototype passenger-only ferry for Puget Sound. The Sun’s editorial board sums things up thusly: If all goes as planned, work will begin in September on a fast, low-wake, fuel-efficient prototype ferry. The $3.7 million, 149-passenger, foil-assisted catamaran will be unique, built after more than seven years of wake research to meet the challenges presented by Rich Passage. At a special meeting on Tuesday, Kitsap Transit board members approved a plan for construction and operation of the craft, using $4.2 million in federal grants and $1.8 million in New Markets Tax Credits in cooperation with the non-profit Marine Transportation Association of Kitsap Read More ›

Island Home Car Ferries A Good Choice for Washington

Susan Gilmore’s article in today’s Seattle Times on the Island Home ferry planned for the Port Townsend-Keystone route was spot on in describing how nice the ferry is for riders. Over the Memorial Day weekend, my family had a chance to ride on the new Island Home ferry (as well as the older ferry that also serves the route) in Massachusetts, from Woods Hole to Martha’s Vineyard. We came away impressed. As the Times’ piece indicates, there is a special deck-top area for free wireless Internet connection. Other amenities include comfortable seats (with cupholders!), quiet areas on the first passenger deck, and a well-stocked snack area that handled the packed crowds quickly with dual stations. Unlike Washington State Ferries policy, Read More ›

Hot Rod Foot Ferry Wows In Seattle Demo

Last week’s fast foot ferry demo and regional foot ferry discussion forum in Seattle, organized by Cascadia Center, stoked the fires again. KOMO 4 TV, The Kitsap Sun and The Peninsula Daily News all weighed in with coverage. Participants came away energized by the ride on All American Marine’s 50 mph River Gorge Explorer (right); determined to find a way to fund a regional network of state-of-the-art passenger-only ferries; and understanding that Puget Sound’s health must be maintained at the same time. The common thread is the huge population growth headed our way in coming decades. Before we delve into last week’s events, let’s set the stage. Off, Then On Again The speedy passenger-only state ferry running between Bremerton and Read More ›

Temporary Foot Ferry Service Begins From Seattle To Port Townsend

The Seattle Times reports the retiring of four badly-deteriorated, 1927-vintage Steel Electric Class car ferries by Washington State Ferries has prompted not only a shifting of state ferry project funds to pay for three replacement vessels, but also temporary passenger-only ferry service between Seattle and Port Townsend on the Olympic Peninsula. More details on the new foot ferry route <a href="from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Port Townsend, a top Northwest tourist destination known for its Victorian architecture, arts community, walkable shopping district, maritime history and Olympic Peninsula access, has been hit hard since car ferry service from Keystone on Whidbey Island was cancelled in late November. By January, the state aims to have a temporary replacement car ferry (from Pierce County) Read More ›

King County To Launch New Passenger-Only Ferry Plan

The Seattle region is blessed with a tremendous natural endowment which doubles as a crucial piece of transportation infrastructure – Puget Sound. State and Pierce County car ferries already ply the Sound, as do a mix of public and commercial, privately-operated passenger-only vessels in King, Snohomish, Whatcom and San Juan counties. For the Puget Sound region, passenger-only ferries on the namesake waterway and on sprawling Lake Washington could be an increasingly viable transportation choice given current road congestion. With sufficient foresight and political leadership, passenger-only ferries plus expanded bus rapid transit and commuter rail could really begin to deliver more and better choices for commuters, other local daytrippers, and visitors who wish to escape the tyranny of traffic. To lay Read More ›

Passenger-Only Ferries In Puget Sound Gain Momentum

A flurry of developments suggests passenger-only ferries are gaining momentum in Puget Sound. In recent months there have been seven routes in operation: the state’s Vashon Island to downtown Seattle run; King County’s West Seattle to downtown Seattle water taxi; Kitsap Transit’s Port Orchard to Bremerton foot ferry; and four longer, privately operated routes to the San Juans Islands and Victoria. Now, add another local water taxi, and – it appears – another major regional passenger ferry route. From today through late November, the Electric Boat Company will run reservation-only water taxis connecting neighborhood docks along Seattle’s Lake Union, as KOMO4-TV reports. Here’s the schedule. In addition, the Port of Kingston – in northeast Kitsap County across Puget Sound from Read More ›

Willamette River Ferry Transit For Portland: Pipe Dream Or Not?

In an Oregonian op-ed titled “The Ready River Of Transit At Our Core,” sustainable developer Peter Wilcox argues for the innate feasibility of an urban water bus system connecting otherwise disparate communities along the landmark Willamette River, a major north-south regional artery. As in the Seattle region, where supporters of an expanded regional passenger-only ferry network met recently to plot next steps, the water in Portland seems a natural piece of transit infrastructure waiting to be more fully developed. Wilcox writes: What would Portland look like if we made the incredible Willamette River our most visible and sustainable public transportation mode? Talk about disparate parts getting connected. Talk about opportunities for many more carless trips….It has long puzzled me that Read More ›

A Turning Point Approaches For Fast Foot Ferries In Puget Sound

This Monday July 2, our Cascadia Center For Regional Development hosted a jam-packed forum in West Seattle for stakeholders to discuss next steps toward funding an expanded system of passenger-only ferries on Puget Sound and Lake Washington. This would embody a modern-day return of the region’s old “Mosquito Fleet” of foot ferries; providing today’s commuters and others with expanded transit options in a region facing increasingly congested roads and steets, and major population growth in coming decades. Cascadia Center’s Director Bruce Agnew moderated the panel discussion featuring presentations by members of the Puget Sound Passenger Ferry Coalition. Among those speaking were King County Council members Dow Constantine and Julia Patterson. KIRO 7 TV and KING-5 TV were among media reporting. Read More ›