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Two foot ferry sailings to be added
The passenger-only ferry service between Vashon and downtown Seattle is expected to add two additional sailings when the newly formed King County Ferry District takes over its operation this fall.
The King County Council, which acts as the board of supervisors for the ferry district, will meet July 27 to decide on a new schedule for the popular commuter boat as well as the fare structure and other issues, said Kris Faucett, a spokesperson for the county’s ferry district.
The council plans to add an additional morning and afternoon sailing, bringing the number of daily crossings by the passenger-only (PO) boat to six, she said.
County officials have surveyed passengers to try to determine the schedules people prefer for those additional sailings. “We’re trying to meet those desires as best as we can,” Faucett said.
The ferry district will continue to take comments until July 20, when the comment period is scheduled to end, said Kathy Shaw, an Islander who heads a newly formed community council committee created to focus on PO boat issues. Staff recommendations were to be issued July 7, too late for The Beachcomber’s deadline.
“I think they’ll listen, and I think this is our time to let them know what we want,” said Shaw, who has commuted to Seattle for 23 years. “And if we don’t do it now, when they’re open to suggestions, it’ll be a lot harder to get things changed.”
The ferry district was formed in April 2007, in large part to take on the Vashon-downtown Seattle route after the state Legislature decided it would no longer fund the service. The ferry district is currently financing the passenger-only service; on Sept. 28, it will take over operation of the route.
The ferry district also oversees two existing water taxi services and will launch demonstration routes in other county communities.
A newly refurbished boat that will be faster and “a little more comfortable” is also in store for the Vashon-Seattle route, Faucett said. The new boat, yet to be purchased, is expected to shave about eight minutes off the 30-minute crossing, she added.
“The goal is to get an improved vessel — something that is faster, smoother and has a few amenities,” she said.
Asked if weekend crossings to downtown Seattle will resume under the county’s management, Faucett said, “It’s something the board has in the back of their mind. ... We know there is a desire among Islanders to have that.”