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Transportation

Dec. 23, 2013

Ferry District announces contract with Bellingham ship builder to replace aging water taxi fleet

New vessels will be larger and provide more reliable service

The King County Ferry District announced today a contract has been signed 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 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.

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.

“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.

“These new passenger ferry boats, funded almost entirely by grants, will allow us to provide more reliable and cost-effective service on our ferry routes to Vashon and West Seattle,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine.
 
Passengers will notice other benefits, as well. The vessels will have wider doors which will help speed boarding and unloading. The vessels will also increase bicycle capacity from 18 to 26 and offer greater comfort for passengers.

“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. 

The King County Marine Division operates the water taxi service on behalf of the Ferry District.

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.