SEATTLE – Ride the Ducks of Seattle announced that it will resume tours at 11 a.m. on Friday. The company opened online and phone reservations on Thursday and the first two tours scheduled have sold out.
Ride the Ducks will drive a new route when the tour company hits the streets of Seattle again.
The company, which uses amphibious military-style boats to show tourists the city, had operations shut down following last September's deadly crash with a bus on the Aurora Bridge. Five international students from North Seattle College were killed and dozens were seriously hurt.
Under a new agreement between the Ducks and Seattle Department of Transportation, duck tours will no long use the Aurora Bridge. The Ducks will ride along Westlake Avenue then cross the Fremont Bridge before dipping into Lake Union.
"What I don't know, especially during peak hours, is if that's necessarily the best route," said bicyclist Andy Glaser, who crosses over the Fremont Bridge every day on his way home from work.
He was one of several people who expressed concern about whether having the ducks travel on the Fremont Bridge is any safer than Aurora Bridge.
"It's probably not the safest route to go," said one driver. "I'm actually surprised they're allowed to operate again."
Others chose to be cautiously optimistic about the tours that have been a part of Seattle for so long.
"I believe they're a good company and it was a unfortunate incident that happened," said Chris Malonas, who lives in Fremont. "I look forward to having them back in business, but you know, want to make sure they tie up loose ends and make sure they're good to go. That's the bottom line."
Duck tours will also be required to have two crew members on board – one to drive and one to be the tour guide. In the past, only one person served both roles.
"I think it's going to take a really long time for them to build back their respect and reputation," said Glaser. "And I don't even know if it will be possible to do that, but I certainly respect that they're trying."
In a statement, Ride the Ducks of Seattle president and founder Brian Tracey said they are thrilled to be back.
"Our team has been working hard to prepare for our re-launch, and on behalf of more than 130 employees, we are thankful to be back on the road again," said Tracey.
Tracey is expected to make a brief statement to the media on Friday before the first duck tours depart at 11 a.m.