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King County highlight plans to build two new water taxi boats

King County Executive Dow Constantine and King County Ferry District Chair Joe McDermott today highlighted work approved last year to design and build two new passenger-only ferries to replace aging vessels now being leased for the two water taxi routes.

Each of the new vessels will cost 5- to 6.5-million dollars, and federal grants have already been secured to pay 80 percent of the cost.

“These new state-of-the-art vessels will provide safe, efficient, and cost-effective service for our customers,” said Executive Constantine. “We are so grateful to Senator Patty Murray and Representative Rick Larsen for securing federal funds to help build these vessels.”

“We have an enthusiastic customer base for the King County Water Taxi service. These new vessels will offer better and more reliable service, help us grow ridership, and will be friendlier to the environment,” said Ferry District Chair and King County Councilmember McDermott. “These will be custom-built for our Water Taxi routes, and owned rather than leased.”

The Ferry District currently leases two 20-year old vessels that have been subject to system failures. The Marine Division of the King County Department of Transportation expects to issue a request for proposals for design and construction of two new vessels in 2013 and have them operational by 2014.

The remaining 20 percent of the cost for the new vessels has been funded by the Ferry District, which contracts with the Marine Division for service. In adopting its 2012 budget last October, the Ferry District Board approved funding and construction of the two new vessels.

While current vessels hold 150 passengers, crews have noticed an increase in the number of times a boat leaves at 100 percent capacity, leaving some customers ashore to wait for the next run. The newer ferries would have a larger capacity. In the meantime, the Ferry District has directed the Marine Division to pursue authorization to carry 172 passengers on its current vessels.

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