Tacoma Councilmember Proposes a Fast-Ferry Service to Seattle


This idea is much too good to happen. And why can't the sounder to/from Tacoma be expanded.
I heart this idea that will never happen so much. And what @1 said about Sounder. And light rail.
Sounder runs at the whim of BNSF, which is why there are only a few trips a day. It is not real public transit.
I would fucking love a ferry system from Tacoma.

@2, It's shocking to me how many people don't know that Sound Transit has a light rail system in Tacoma. (Not suggesting you don't, but many in Seattle certainly have no clue.) Also, Tacoma Link is expanding!

Sound Transit needs to connect the dots between Tacoma Link and Link Light Rail. I'm sure they would do it if they could get the money.
Sounder has thirteen round trips per day, with more scheduled. And it doesn't run at the "whim" of BNSF. It's dispatched by BNSF, with BNSF conductors and engineers.


Amtrak runs another five trains between Seattle and Tacoma each day with another train starting next year.

I'm all for more transit, but let's look at the issue from a reality-based worldview, not something Our Dear Charles thought he heard somewhere.
We should definitely do this, and as part of this can we get more walking improvements around the ferry terminal downtown? It's scary to walk down there as it is right now and last time I went to catch the water taxi I had to bail when I could find the dock entrance.
A passenger ferry between Seattle and Tacoma would be great.

The Sounder takes an hour from Tacoma to Seattle or vice-versa, swinging far east of I-5 and coming up through Puyallup, Auburn, Kent, etc. It's faster than driving or riding a bus on the highway when traffic on the highway is slow.
This is a terrible idea. Ferries, even 'fast' ones, are much too slow to be time-competitive except in markets like Bremerton/Seattle where the road connection is too circuitous.

These ferries have been studied to death and the cost/benefit is always hopelessly awful. Take a look at those Lake Washington ferry studies from two years ago.
@7 Hate to break it to you, but even as the waterfront is about to get nicer, the ferry terminal is about to get WORSE. Welcome to Ferry-maggeddon which will run from 2017-2023...https://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/Ferrie…
Another condescending and bourgeois collection of word vomit from Mr. Mudede. Although I'm a bit surprised at his blatant lack of research for this one - usually he makes at least a nominal attempt to apply critical thinking skills.

Every bit of research into logistics, costs, and general numbers associated with ferry transportation - and there's been quite a bit - has clearly shown that ferries, even foot ferries, are not even close to "cost effective". Mr. Mudede doesn't even reference the numerous studies on environmental impacts these ships have.

Seriously, does the Stranger staff even pay attention to the crap he spews? It's like he learned his journalism skills from Bannon.
@5: Okay, Sounder runs at the whim of the BNSF schedule. So does Amtrak. Freight rules on that line, passengers play second fiddle. Which is why you can't take a Sounder out of Seattle between 8:00am and 2:30pm. Or after 7:00pm. Or on weekends. It is not real public transit.
Hate to break it to you @7, but Sounder is heavy rail and it only runs a few trips a day.
Whoops! Meant @4.
@4, Kitchnsync wrote, "It's shocking to me how many people don't know that Sound Transit has a light rail system in Tacoma. [...] Sound Transit needs to connect the dots between Tacoma Link and Link Light Rail. I'm sure they would do it if they could get the money."

@13, Mud Baby responded, "Sounder is heavy rail and it only runs a few trips a day."

1) The only thing light about "light rail" is its capacity.
2) The southern Sounder line runs between a small town south of Tacoma and Seattle.
3) Tacoma Link, which most of us would call a streetcar or tram, runs from Tacoma Dome Station to Tacoma's Theater District.
4) Tacoma Link will soon be extended through Stadium District to Hilltop, then on to Tacoma Community College.
5) Sound Transit plan to connect the system of Link rail lines in the Seattle area with the east side, north sound, and south sound (all the way to Tacoma in 2030).
Doug, Sound Transit gets priority dispatch over freight because ST pays a premium for those time slots AND, along with the State of Washington, has invested in millions of dollars of upgrades between Everett and Tacoma. Southline On-time Performance is about 85%, and the long range plans call for gradually expanded service, similar to the Amtrak Cascades.

Generally speaking, most of the freight slowdowns in our area are because of congestion, not BNSF. That's one of the reasons they are putting in the Port Defiance Bypass between the Tacoma Station and the Nisqually Flats. BNSF is a very well-run railroad, as opposed to the Union Pacific, which has very little regard for passenger traffic.

As you many know, I'm an Amtrak Bride. Mr. Vel-DuRay has worked for the railroad for 37 years. He was one of the first on-board Manager for the Cascades, managed the Empire Builder for fifteen years, and currently manages the Seattle Crew Base. Amtrak handles the maintenance for the Sounder Trains. I've been hearing about it for fifteen years.

Have you gone on the new West Seattle Water Taxi? It's quick as fuck and keeps to the schedule like a Swiss train. The Kitsap ferry gets you to Bremerton in 20 something minutes and change. When was the last time you did Tacoma-Seattle under 30 minutes? Exact at 2am back in the late 90s at as a drunk teenager. I for one would love a blazing fast passenger ferry to whisk me southward to see trippy Chihuly glass.
Am I the only one who still thinks that Tacoma smells super bad- or have we all agreed to pretend that it doesn't, in the name of affordable housing?
I would love to see a water taxi between West Seattle and interbay. But they'd need transit connections on both ends to make it work.
Sigh. This is why we can't have nice things. We keep fucking up and wasting our money on bullshit projects because of ignorance. There are some knowledgeable comments here, but it is also obvious that lots of people don't know shit about transit. That's fine, I guess. I don't know shit about pop music. But at least The Stranger is helping in that regard. The Stranger isn't doing shit to enlighten anyone on transit issues. Their basic attitude is "transit good, cars bad -- vote for transit!". The Seattle Times editorial staff simply argues the opposite (i. e. fuck all taxes). There is never any meaningful analysis as to whether it makes sense to invest in a particular transit project, or whether there are better options.

Just to back up a bit, there are several options for transit from Tacoma to Seattle, including:

1) Sounder. There are several runs a day and they just expanded the number of runs. They will add more as part of ST3. Sounder operates like any commuter rail line. It isn't frequent, but it doesn't cost that much either. From Tacoma, the train follows the old tracks, which take a round about route to Seattle. That explains why ridership in Tacoma lags cities like Puyallup, Sumner, Auburn and Kent. For those suburban cities, it is pretty much a direct shot. For Tacoma, not so much. The problem could be solved by investing in high speed rail (trains averaging, say, 150 MPH) but that isn't going to happen. Instead we invested in ...

2) Light rail to Tacoma. When "The Spine" finally reaches Tacoma, it will take about an hour and 15 minutes to get from downtown Seattle to the Tacoma Dome. That's right, it will take significantly longer to get from Tacoma to Seattle on light rail than it will on Sounder. That is because we are essentially building an extremely long subway system (one of the longest in the world). It is an experiment to see if suburban trips (e. g. Fife to Angle Lake) will be as popular as urban ones (Northgate to Capitol Hill). This would all be very interesting if not for the fact that the Bay Area did that sort of experiment years ago with BART, and found that (surprise, surprise) urban trips are way more popular than suburban ones. Speaking of the Bay Area, they also have ...

3) A high speed ferry. Running a high speed ferry from Tacoma to Seattle is a reasonable idea. It could be similar to the Vallejo ferry. I suggested it years ago. But I suggested it more in terms of "Fuck, we would be better off running a high speed ferry than extending the subway all the way down to Tacoma". Just to be clear, it should be studied. It might pencil out (like it does in Vallejo) but it sure as fuck won't run "all hours of the day and night". The Vallejo Ferry runs about as often as Sounder. This is the Bay Area we are talking about (an area many times larger than Seattle/Tacoma). The reason it doesn't run "all hours of the day night" is because for much of the day, it is actually faster to take ...

4) A Bus. Even the fastest high speed ferry wouldn't beat a bus, unless the bus is stuck in traffic. A bus also serves several stops in both downtown areas. Right now, the bus runs quite often. Way more often than Sounder, and way more often that Link will likely run to Tacoma.

But during rush hour, the bus gets bogged down. The cheapest and easiest way to make the bus much faster would be to change the HOV 2 lanes to HOV 3, or institute HOT lanes. Just do that and it is much faster, and much more frequent than the alternatives. It wouldn't be as romantic, nor as fun as a ferry, but it would actually get the job done much better.
I am amazed at how many people think this is likely to be a good idea. A fast ferry is going to be expensive, environmentally problematic, and (worst of all) not all that fast compared to land options.

For those of you bagging on the train, there are thirteen trips a day in each direction and Amtrak adds another five (with two more starting in December). That's twenty trains a day going each way. A ferry is never going to match that for volume, cost effectiveness, or environmental impact.