Fast Ferry

I think I used almost all my commuting options this week:

  • Fast Ferry
  • WSF
  • Sounder
  • Carpool
  • Vanpool
  • Bus
  • Company Shuttle
  • Time Shift
  • Telecommute

Mixing it up definitely keeps it interesting. I’m waiting for the day I end up forgetting which way I came in and ending up in Tacoma with a car in Bremerton or vice versa. That won’t be a good day.

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January 11th kicks off the ‘Seattle Squeeze’ where the Alaska Way Viaduct closes in preparation for the new tunnel. I haven’t thought all that much about my plan but with it now 9 days away I decided to outline a few strategies so I’m ready when my usual plan breaks down.

My major advantage (I think) is that my destination is actually Bellevue and not Seattle. However, many of my public transportation options (Ferries, Sounder Train) put Seattle on my way so hoping that it isn’t too miserable.

Here are my likely strategies:

  • Telecommute – Keep to my usual schedule but may add a day per week as needed.
  • Timeshift/Carpool – Days where my wife is working in Seattle. The combination of lighter traffic in the late morning + HOV usually makes this a nice way to go but we’ll see what happens when traffic patterns shift.
  • Bremerton WSF / Fast Ferry Return – For weeks where I have the coveted 5:10 reservation to return back from Seattle.
  • Sounder to Tukwila  – crossing my fingers that the train isn’t crushed and I-405 between Tukwila and Bellevue isn’t worse than usual. May combine this with a timeshift earlier to hedge for better I-405 traffic. This isn’t a bad choice with my company shuttle using the HOV lane.
  • Southworth to Vashon WSF / Vashon Water Taxi217 or 554 Bus – if the Sounder Train is miserably crushed I’ll take to the water even w/o a fast ferry reservation. This is my likely every day strategy once the new triangle route goes into effect in April 2019

Tacoma released their feasibility study today for a Fast Ferry from Tacoma to Seattle. In short, they indicated there IS feasibility and evaluated four sites in Tacoma.

Ferry Pic

I’m surprised they didn’t focus more evaluation on Seattle dock options since we know this is already becoming an issue with the Kitsap Fast Ferries. One of the more interesting parts to me was the time from each site. Point Defiance came in at 43 mins while 11th street was 53 mins. This barely saves off time from the Sounder but for those looking to land closer to downtown Tacoma and more northwest in Seattle (assuming Colman dock like the other Fast Ferries), I guess this could be convenient.

I would have liked to see a a route connecting to light rail evaluated as well. Seems like a quick trip to Des Moines with a shuttle to the Angle Lake station would be pretty handy both for those accessing the airport and Seattle (and the entire expanding light rail).

Will be interesting to see what Tacoma does next.

The full feasibility study.

I haven’t let myself get too excited for this one since service won’t start until 2010 but since it was in the news last week that Kitsap Transit has ordered Southworth Fast Ferries, I think its a good time to summarize how optimistic I am about this:

  1. Sailings will take 23 mins from Southworth to Seattle! This is a quicker ride than it used to take me to get from Queen Anne to Downtown.
  2. No reservations needed! – These ships won’t be low wake Catamarans like the one running between Bremerton and Seattle. These vessels will be larger variety like the West Seattle and Vashon Water taxis and the recently added Kingston fast ferry. No reservations is a big deal because this means no requirement to arrive 10 mins early (with a reservation) or 30+ (without reservation).
  3. Multiple vessels expected – similar to the WSF system, 2 vessels will operate simultaneously.  With a 23 mins sailing and 10 min loading/unloading time, I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw ferries coming every 35-45 mins.
  4. Parking – Southworth parking is a breeze compared to Bremerton with affordable parking at the dock as well as ample park and ride lots like Harper Church and Mullenix P&Rs.
  5. Backed up nicely by the WSF from Fauntleroy and Vashon – This becomes particularly useful when the new triangle route goes into effect in April 2019.