2017 in review: Construction and new branding for the King County Water Taxi

By any measure, 2017 was one of the busiest years on record for the King County Water Taxi with new construction, new branding, ridership pacing last year’s record numbers, and recognition with two national awards.

Pile-signingConstruction begins on future Water Taxi facility: King County Executive Dow Constantine joined Governor Jay Inslee, Washington Department of Transportation Assistant Secretary Amy Scarton, and other transportation leaders to celebrate the start of the five-year Seattle Multimodal Terminal at Colman Dock project. Attendees had the opportunity to sign a steel piling that will be used to support the future home of the Water Taxi at a 5,000-square-foot, weather-protected Passenger Only Ferry (POF) facility on the Seattle waterfront. The new facility began construction in 2017, and when finished in fall 2018, the $34 million facility will offer:

  • Covered queuing areas,
  • Ticket vending machines,
  • Customer information systems,
  • Accessibility improvements, and
  • Direct access to the Colman Dock terminal via an elevated pedestrian walkway once the state’s terminal replacement is complete

ColmanDock_aerialThe work required the Water Taxi to operate out of a temporary location on the north side of Colman Dock while crews construct the POF facility on the south side. The move interrupted Water Taxi service on both West Seattle and Vashon Island routes for about a week in August.

The future home for the Water Taxi represents the first step in WashDOT’s replacement of Colman Dock, the state’s largest and busiest terminal with over 9 million passengers annually using the facility.

brand-2New, award-winning branding: In April, the Water Taxi introduced a new, sleek look to its fleet. The branding – developed and designed by King County DOT graphic artists – highlights several signature elements of the Water Taxi’s popular service:

  • Sun and Water – the program brand mark is a conceptual, dual-purpose graphic depicting the Water Taxi and the sun over water. It represents speed, reliability and the Seattle waterscape.
  • Speed and Agility – the sleek flavor reflects the design of the Water Taxi’s two catamarans, the MV Sally Fox and MV Doc Maynard.
  • Landscape – a reflection of the rider experience on the Water Taxi, whether the destination is Downtown Seattle, West Seattle or Vashon Island.

The new look was an immediate hit with riders. Not only did the Water Taxi emblazon the new branding on its boats, but it’s now on everything from crew uniforms to printed schedules to West Seattle shuttles.

The branding also gained national recognition when it was named a MarCom Gold Award Winner, an international marketing and communications competition. The honor is especially meaningful because the branding was entirely an in-house effort that saved an estimated $30,000.

In addition to new branding, the Water Taxi welcomed a new passenger-only ferry service to its dock when Kitsap Fast Ferries service between downtown Seattle and Bremerton began in July.

0117PanzeroPVAsafetyAward018-blogNational Marine Safety Award: The year kicked off with award of the prestigious Roger Murphy National Marine Safety Award to Ron Panzero, the Marine Division’s Marine Operations and Maintenance Manager, for his work to create a safer marine environment through the execution of a large-scale mass rescue drill on May 25, 2016 in Puget Sound. Working with eight maritime partners, including local law enforcement, other passenger vessel operators, and the Seattle Maritime Academy, Panzero successfully orchestrated a simulated mass evacuation and rescue operation with 76 participants.

Ridership holds steady: Despite the week-long facility closure in August, Water Taxi ridership is holding steady for the year, nearly keeping pace with the record we set in 2016. In the two months after the Water Taxi began service out of its temporary location in August, we experienced record ridership on both routes. The King County Water Taxi continues to grow in popularity, and more people are choosing the service for their daily commutes as well as for recreation.


Published by

Frank Abe, King County DOT

Senior Strategic Communications Advisor to the Director of the King County Department of Transportation