Tag Archives: Water Taxi

How the Bus Fam celebrates a sunny day

I am not a fair weather bus chick. I love my city (rain, clouds, and late-spring chill included) and my carfree life no matter the season. I’d be lying, though, if I said that I didn’t prefer getting around during time of year when it’s light both early and late and there’s a high probability of sunshine.

During the months between May and October (aka, bus chick high season) life on the ground is lovely–far, far prefarable to life trapped inside an exhaust-spewing metal box stuck in baseball traffic. We walk more than we wait (truth be told, except in extreme weather conditions, I do that year round), worry less about how late we get home (sadly, bedtimes still exist during DST), and spend as much time as we can outdoors.

On a beautiful day, there is plenty of occupy us in our own corner of the city. We are spitting distance from five great parks. We can walk to a city pool. We can take the 27 down to the lake and put our feet in the water. (Almost as often, if we have time, we walk all the way down there–and back.)

But sometimes, much as we love our neighborhood, we get tired of beating the same paths. Sometimes, on a sunny day, we have a hankerin’ for an adventure. Today was one of those times. So, we bus types rose early, threw on some playin-outside-in-the-sunshine gear, and did what we do best.

First, we caught the 27 to 3rd & Yesler, then walked to Pier 50 to catch my beloved Water Taxi.

My city

View from the Water Taxi







Busling love, love, loves the retro paint job on “his” Space Needle.

Busling's Space Needle







It was Chicklet’s job to find the mountain. Hello, Tahoma!

Hello, Tahoma!


On the other side:

On the other side


At Seacrest, we caught the (free!) Dart shuttle to the Admiral District.

Shuttle to Admiral

We stopped at the church where my mom’s ashes are buried to bring her some early Mother’s Day flowers.

Flowers for Caroline

Then, we played (and had a snack) at the park near Hiawatha Community Center, which is one of Chicklet’s favorites.


By the time we caught the shuttle down to Alki, it was still early.

Shuttle back to the beach

Gorgeous but still a little chilly







Chillin at Alki

Good name













After plenty of good sand and water time–and after a quick stop at the cafe formerly known as Alki Bakery–we caught the 56 downtown.

And, they're spent!

Despite an extra-long wait at 3rd & Yesler (27 was 18 minutes late, and nothing else was coming), we made it home in time for Busling’s nap.

Perfect, perfect day.

And counting

Earlier this month, I celebrated my car-free anniversary. As of March 5th (or was it the 6th?), I’m officially seven years in.

It’s been an eventful seven years. I bought a home, got married, lost my beloved mother to cancer, and had two children. Navigating so many major life events without a car in a city that all but requires one has certainly had its challenges, but it has also integrated the bus into all of my significant recent memories*–and made it impossible for me to imagine my life without Metro. As I wrote in my Real Change column back in 2006, buses have associations for me.

Riding the Water Taxi reminds me of the days I spent with my mother during her last months of life. The first time I rode it to my parents’ Seacrest Park condo the spring after she died, I cried. Sometimes I still do.

The 545 will forever feel romantic to me, since it’s the route Nerd and I rode together in the early days of our courtship. I don’t think I’ve ever looked more forward to a commute–or for that matter, to anything.

The 4 and 27 are my baby buses–the 4 because I rode it to all of my obstetrician appointments–and home from the hospital with Chicklet; the 27 because I rode it to the hospital to deliver Chicklet and home from the hospital with Busling.

And there are many more. The Ballard buses (17, 18) take me to my brother, Jeremy (and also remind me of my rather unfortunate adventure as a ball-gown model); the 55 takes me to my Joelie and the place I still consider home; the 14 is all about TAC meetings, Top Pot (Summit side), and writing group get-togethers at my friend Marchel’s house (Mount Baker side); the 194: Paris, Detroit, and airport goodbyes with Bus Nerd; the 8: Mom again.

And the 36, though it’s not one of my regular routes, reminds me of why I ride: to be a part of my community, and to share my travels with the people I share the world with.

Bring on the next seven.

*The bus is also integrated into many of my not-so-recent memories, like this one and this one.

A nice ride if you can get it

This evening, we Saulter siblings (well, three of us, anyway)–along with our respective SOs and Chicklet–convened in our original neighborhood of West Seattle to celebrate our father‘s 70th birthday. The plan was to meet at a restaurant on Alki–as good an excuse as any for Bus Nerd and I to try the Water Taxi shuttle for the first time. (Yes, I’ve been riding the Water Taxi for years, but since my dad lives across the street from the Seacrest dock, and I only ride my favorite floating bus to visit him*, I’ve never had occasion to use the shuttle. I digress.)

Some advice to Water Taxi riders who have to get somewhere (for example, a restaurant that doesn’t hold reservations and won’t seat a party until everyone has arrived) by a specific time: Get your tails off the boat and to the shuttle stop ASAP, or have a backup plan.

We were somewhere in the middle of the pack of passengers disembarking, and by the time we made it to the shuttle, it was full. The driver told us she only had room for one more person, and–oh yeah–hers was the last shuttle run that evening. Have I mentioned that bus service from Seacrest to the beach is all but nonexistent? Back in the old days, Nerd and I would have probably just taken a cab, since we didn’t have time for a long walk, but, of course, we had Chicklet in tow and no car seat.

Fortunately, we had a rarely available option: nearby family. I rode the shuttle with Chicklet while Nerd hightailed it to my dad’s place to hitch a ride with him. The reservation was preserved, and a good time was had by all, including–and especially–the guest of honor.

P.S. – For those who are wondering: We took the 56 home.

*I usually ride the bus to other destinations in West Seattle, since riding the Water Taxi tends to take longer. Pier 55 is a decent walk from 3rd Avenue, and the WT schedule rarely lines up well with the schedules of the buses I ride downtown.

And one more…

Elliott Bay Water Taxi opening day festivities
What: A “community celebration” of Seattle’s only floating bus
When: Sunday, April 27, 12 PM – 2 PM
Where: Seacrest Park
How much: The party and rides are free on the 27th. (The Water Taxi usually costs $3 but is free with a bus pass of any denomination.)

As most of you know, I am a huge fan of the Water Taxi, both for selfish reasons (my dad lives across the street from Seacrest) and because it makes people feel good about leaving their cars at home. Why drive when the alternative is a lovely cruise across the bay?

See you at the party!

Good news for Water Taxi riders

The season, which usually ends September 30th, has been extended through October. From a Metro press release:

Due to anticipated record ridership and higher than expected revenues, King County Metro Transit will extend service on the Water Taxi through the month of October. The extended service will be offered on weekdays only and serve commuters traveling between West Seattle’s Seacrest Dock and Pier 55 along the downtown Seattle waterfront. The Water Taxi had been scheduled to wrap up its 10th sailing season on Sept. 30.

“The value of the Elliott Bay Water Taxi was particularly evident during the Interstate 5 construction when it carried more than 2,300 passengers in nine days,” King County Executive Ron Sims said. “That’s proof more residents are willing to leave their cars at home and try the Water Taxi.”

There will also be service for the two October home Seahawk games on the 14th and 21st. (What about them Seeeeeeeeahawks?!)

Speaking of waterborne transit…

The King County Council recently voted to establish a ferry district, which will include, at minimum, the Elliott Bay Water Taxi and the Vashon passenger-only ferry that the state has decided to stop running. In the future, expect to hear discussions of other waterborne transit possibilities.

The District would potentially support operation of Vashon-Seattle passenger-only ferries, year-round Elliott Bay Water Taxi service, and a Kirkland-to-University of Washington demonstration route; conduct feasibility studies of future routes; and establish a modest capital fund for better boats and dock facilities. Other potential destinations that could be served include West Seattle, Des Moines, downtown Seattle, North Bay, Magnolia, Shilshole, Shoreline, Lake Union, North Renton, and Kenmore. Depending on the results of a potential feasibility study for passenger-only ferry service for South Puget Sound, additional service could be developed linking King County with Gig Harbor and Tacoma.

My take: I love the Water Taxi and ride it often, but I’m not yet sure that expanding waterborne transit in this region makes sense. It will only work well if there are efficient ways to get people to and from the boats. I’d rather take a bus across a bridge (even a crowded bridge) than take a bus to a boat, wait to get on, board, ride, and then catch another bus at the other end. (This isn’t an issue when I take the Water Taxi, since it takes me from downtown straight to my destination.)

Still, it will be interesting to see how this idea progresses. I’m keeping my mind open.

Celebrating Seattle’s floating bus

Today, bus nerd and I attended the big Water Taxi celebration. Apparently, so did everyone else in Seattle.

12:30 ride from Pier 55:

First ride of 2007

Celebration at Seacrest:

Seacrest celebration!

2:00 Seacrest boarding:

2:00 boarding

Coolest parts of the day:
• The view from the deck of the taxi. (Our city is sexy, no?)
• The view from inside the taxi. We even saw a sea lion:

A sea lion on a buoy

• Free drinks on the ride west. Both were non-alcoholic, juice-and-syrup concoctions: a Seacrest Sunrise and a Dow Constantini. (Apparently, Dow Constantine is a big Water Taxi booster. Last summer, he had ads all over the boat.)
• Prizes! I won an Argosy lakes cruise for two. (That’s two in a row. When’s the next transit fest?)
• Hanging out with my dad and my brother Joel. They both came to the park, ate fish and chips (not provided by the transit fest), and hung out in the warm(ish) weather. My dad even accompanied us on our boat ride back downtown, taking the opportunity to regale us with stories of his 30 years as a Coast Guard reservist.

Uncoolest parts of the day:
• Free balloons at Seacrest. Every kid in the vicinity (and there were many) had at least one, and there was a clown making balloon animals on demand. Have I mentioned my fear of balloons?
• Crowds. There was a great turnout for the opening day celebration, and the EBWT was a victim of its own success. The boat we rode to Seacrest was completely full–so full that some people couldn’t find seats. By the time we got to Seacrest (at around 12:45), all of the refreshments–even the coffee–had been consumed. On the way back, there wasn’t enough room on the boat we wanted to take, so we had to stand in line for an hour to wait for the next one. (We couldn’t leave to go do something else, or we would have lost our place.)

Long line

My dad had the same problem trying to get back from downtown. All in all, we spent a lot of time waiting. I’m hoping that folks who were trying to the Water Taxi for the first time don’t think it’s usually like that. It’s not.
• Missing Mom. It was the first time I’d ridden my favorite boat without the promise of seeing her on the other side.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming

Starting Sunday, the Elliott Bay Water Taxi (of September Golden Transfer fame) will be back in business. Service is free all day, and there will be a party (with refreshments, folks) at Seacrest Park.

From Metro’s site:

You are invited to the Water Taxi Kick Off event on Sunday, April 29th at Seacrest Park from Noon to 2:00 p.m. Enjoy entertainment at Seacrest Park in West Seattle, balloons and face-painting for the kids, free posters, refreshments and more! Service is FREE ALL DAY during the celebration event, so bring the family and friends!

I am so there. And since my dad lives across the street from Seacrest Park (and has never been one to turn down free food), I’m guessing I can talk him into going, too.