The King County Ferry District, whose ferries link the communities that ring Lake Washington and Puget Sound, has contracted with Bellingham-based All American Marine to design and build two new 'water taxis' to replace its pair of 25 year-old leased vessels.
The operators explain that the new vessels will each carry 250 passengers, 78 more than the vessels they will replace. That added capacity means more passengers will be able to use the water taxis during the busiest weekday commute periods.
Design and construction of the two vessels is expected to cost $11.8 million, 80 percent of which is funded by the Federal Transit Administration. Construction is expected to start during the first quarter of 2014. The first vessel will be delivered by mid-2015 followed by delivery of the second vessel in late 2015.
The new catamarans will replace the Rachel Marie and Melissa Ann - vessels that have been operating from Vashon Island and West Seattle to downtown Seattle since 2010. The Ferry District also owns and operates a third vessel, the Spirit of Kingston, which will remain part of the water taxi fleet.
“This action will lead to more reliability and capacity for water taxi riders. We continue to see increased ridership, and these new boats will help us meet the demand of King County residents looking for an alternative from single occupancy cars,” said Joe McDermott, Chair of the King County Ferry District.
The King County Marine Division operates the water taxi service on behalf of the Ferry District. “I am pleased with the selection of All American Marine – a company that brings experience and an excellent reputation for delivering quality passenger-only ferries for customers on both coasts,” said Marine Division Director Paul Brodeur.