CHOKEPOINTS

Des Moines betting on fast ferry service to attract visitors

Aug 10, 2022, 9:21 AM
Photo courtesy of the City of Des Moines...
Photo courtesy of the City of Des Moines

What’s old is new again for Puget Sound transportation. Decades after turning our back on the water, one city is using it for congestion relief and a development spark.

Looking out at Puget Sound from the Des Moines marina, you see the value of the vast opportunity in front of you, especially after grinding through the construction and congestion on Interstate 5.

Des Moines is the first city to start up its own passenger-only ferry service. It’s only a two-month pilot project, but the Des Moines city manager, Michael Matthias, said it’s a creative way to use our region’s resources.

“It’s the opportunity to maximize what’s right in front of us and take advantage of it and add value to it,” Mattias said.

The service launches August 10 with four roundtrips a day to Seattle’s Bell Harbor Marina.  A reliable 40-minute trip on the water to downtown Seattle, versus a fluctuating travel time on I-5 that also comes with a parking fee. Does that sound like something you would be interested in?

Matthias said the city did a demand study and he said it showed enough of an interest to move forward.

“Now maybe it makes sense to do a pilot,” he said. “Let’s take a look at this and see how effective it is and what the draw is regionally and locally for that service.”

And after two months, Matthias and the city will have their answer.

But Matthias believes this can be much more than a commuter option. The ferry service is part of a grand redevelopment of the marina, and he envisions a diverse group of people using the service.

“It could be locals going up to Seattle. It could be people coming from the airport,” he said. “We get a lot of people from the airport, pass-throughs, that have a few hours between flights. They’ll come down to the marina. People can also get to the airport using the ferry service. We’re just going to look at all the different aspects and find out where the sweet spot is and try and build on that.”

Imagine ending your trip to Seattle with lunch on the waterfront and then catching a ferry to Des Moines and a shuttle to the airport. That’s the kind of service Matthias believes will attract people.

More from Chris Sullivan: What to do with West Seattle’s Fauntleroy ferry terminal?

Which leads me back to the larger question. Why did we turn our backs on this resource? Longtime maritime transit advocate Peter Phillips explained.

“Initially automobiles were faster, cheaper and more convenient, and that’s not necessarily the case anymore,” Phillips said. “We very constricted, land side, on where we can build new roads. Automobiles and congestion are hard to overcome, and the technology on the fast ferry side has made it inexpensive, sustainable, environmentally-friendly, and fast. It’s a quality of life issue.”

Des Moines is chartering a 62 person fast ferry from Puget Sound Express for the two month pilot project. The first week will be free, but it will cost $10 a trip after that. Children 13 and under will be free though.

Matthis said he’ll look at the results and then decide what’s next.  Des Moines is spending between $500-600,000 to find out if this is a viable transportation option for the city.

 

Chokepoints

I-90 - Snoqualmie Pass East (WSDOT)...
Chris Sullivan

I-90, Snoqualmie Pass construction returns with lane-widening and expected traffic delays

I-90 construction between North Bend and Ellensburg is back. Lane closures and long delays are in your future.
3 days ago
roundabout...
Chris Sullivan

Roundabout to slow traffic on Hwy 9 in Snohomish

We're talking about roundabouts today because Highway 9 in Snohomish County is about to be closed down for about a week to put one in.
5 days ago
seafair boats bridge party...
Chris Sullivan

I-5 construction persists through Seafair weekend with WSDOT halfway through revival project

This is about as busy of a summer weekend as you can get in Seattle, but construction will not be taking any time off, this is Seafair Weekend.
10 days ago
(Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)...
Chris Sullivan

A driver’s guide for passing and slow-moving vehicles

Slow-moving vehicles and risky passers are a deadly combination. With about a month left of summer, it's time for a good reminder on the rules.
19 days ago
(Photo by Philip James Corwin/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)...
Chris Sullivan

Construction won’t ease just because the hot Mariners are hosting Houston

Friday's game against Houston is sold out, and T-Mobile Park will be near capacity but guess what?  Construction isn't going to be taking the weekend off.
24 days ago
Expansion joints I-5, bumps...
Chris Sullivan

Another busy construction weekend to get in your way

It shouldn't be as bad as last weekend, but construction will once again get in your way over the next three days.
30 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
Des Moines betting on fast ferry service to attract visitors