Why a foot ferry? Pros and Cons | FerryFare

Let’s go over the pros and cons.

Pros: cost and convenience, downtown vitality, and bringing new families to Kingston.

Cons: downtown will change, reliability is uncertain, and we all get taxed while commuters receive the benefit.

The ferry will change our downtown. While we may like Kingston as it is, rarely do downtowns remain static. They either prosper or decline. In 1990’s the prospect of a ferry and new home developments attracted downtown investment. With the recession, we were back to empty store fronts.

At last month’s Kingston Citizens Advisory Council meeting, a recently arrived commuter resident commented that Seattle is becoming the next tech San Francisco. Just look at the headquarters coming here: Amazon, Expedia, Gates Foundation, Zillow, along with tech centers for Oracle, Alibaba, Apple, Sears, HP, etc. It costs $700K for these workers to find a home on the other side within a one hour commute. With a thirty-minute ferry ride from downtown our Village Green, school campuses and natural environment offer an affordable quality of life that young professionals can call home and bring their vitality.

We have good data on passenger ferry reliability because of Victoria Clipper, Vashon Island, and Kingston ferries. A Kingston foot-ferry is more reliable than the car-ferry/Sounder alternate and less reliable than the bus/Bainbridge ferry alternate. If a fast ferry doesn’t run, using a slower backup, like the Express, would mean a 10 minute longer ride. WSF boats on occasion run that late.

What about a tax that benefits commuters? Besides being our friends and neighbors, these commuters bring back paychecks that support our schools, fire, police, parks, roads and so on. They also support the local businesses which we all use. I honestly won’t see 30 cent tax on a $100 purchase. By contrast, the cost of taking a car across is big and using the limited ferry/bus connections takes me three times as long if they’re even available.

For me, the bottom line goes back to being connected to Seattle. In New York and San Francisco foot ferries have revitalized all the towns they’ve touched.

Terminal news: Colman Dock’s replacement starts in April, and costs are between $320 million to $360 million. It will take until 2023 to complete — eek! The creosote pilings date back to 1930s.

They, and the terminal they’re holding up, have to be replaced. There will be two new terminal buildings connected by a raised plaza. An entry building with elevators, escalators and shops will be along Alaskan way; and a ticketing/waiting building will be along the dock. There will also be a third building for passenger ferry riders over by the float.

One of the first things done will be to replace the Bainbridge loading ramp. The raised Marion Street pedestrian walkway will be also replaced, but, alas, it will remain uncovered. WSF is still working on where to put the holding lot overflow during the construction. While there’s no change to the drop-off/pick-up areas, King County is converting the last block of Columbia St to a bus transit hub. That’s currently where the viaduct on-ramp is. That ramp will go away because without a downtown exit the tunnel is only needed for two lanes, which will reduce the cost.

There are other terminal projects in the works. The Mukilteo terminal is being relocated one-third of a mile east with a bigger holding area and overhead passenger loading. Bainbridge’s wood walkways will finally be replaced. Here in Kingston, they’ll be fixing the soil that was washed out around slip number one and replacing some hydraulic equipment. All the terminals will be getting LED lighting with “warm” (more yellow than blue) colors.

Maybe that 1960’s concrete Colman terminal, the quirky Bainbridge walkway and the passenger ramp with an auto-garage chain hoist will be missed once they’re replaced with glass and steel.