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West Seattle Water Taxi will maintain year-round midday, weekend service beginning in October

The water taxi typically ramps down mid-day service in the fall and winter, but ridership levels warrant the extra sailings throughout the year, King County said.

SEATTLE — The West Seattle water taxi will maintain a year-round midday and weekend sailing schedule beginning in October. 

King County Executive Dow Constantine announced the added sailings on Monday. Before 2021, the water taxi reduced service during the fall and winter. The water taxi would only be in service during commute hours with no midday service. 

During the repair of the West Seattle Bridge in September 2021, the water taxi began a pilot program offering midday sailings for those trying to get between West Seattle and downtown. The pilot continued in 2022, and ridership levels were high enough to continue the extra sailings through the winter. 

"The water taxi continues to deliver a reliable, enjoyable ride as part of Seattle's transit infrastructure," Constantine said. "Maintaining seven-day-a-week service creates a regular option that allows people to stay out of their cars and get where they need to go."

Water taxi staff will conduct vessel maintenance on Oct. 14 and 15 in preparation for the winter sailing schedule, so service will be canceled that weekend. Seven-day-a-week service will continue to run from approximately 6 a.m. on weekdays and 8:30 a.m. on weekends to 7 p.m.

"Everyone is excited, regulars and people that commute every single day, that just makes their lives so much easier," said Dawnelle De Marco, an employee at Marination Ma Kai. "They should absolutely have this all year round and should have done it sooner, just because it's so helpful for the community."

King County Metro said the main reason behind the decision to bring back the water taxi is because of how successful the pilot was last winter. 

"What we saw during the pilot was that we continue to have strong ridership, even though the West Seattle high bridge was open," said Terry Federer, marine division director for King County. "It was really on par for when it was closed."

The water taxi had 330,000 riders last year and has hit more than 240,000 in 2023. 

The year-round service isn't just big news for riders but for the nearly 40 water taxi employees too. 

"During the winter, we would actually suspend service to a point and drop our service back during the winter time for west Seattle and unfortunately what that meant for some of our employees is that they would be laid off," Federer said. "And that is something we are very excited that we don't have to do any longer."

Weekday sailings during rush hour will depart every 35 minutes, switching to every hour by mid-day and on the weekends. There will be no Friday or Saturday sailings after 7 p.m.

Adult fare for the water taxi is $5.75 one way, or $5 with an Orca card. Youth can ride for free. Click here for information about reduced fares. 

"How can you be in a bad mood if you're heading over on the water?" De Marco said. "You have the water, the view, probably have a taco in your hand. That's just a great day right there."

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