Puget Sound Passenger-Only Ferry Study Underway

Last Updated: 
Sep 11, 2019

PSRC is conducting a study of passenger-only ferry service around Puget Sound to identify opportunities to expand transportation options

PSRC launched the Puget Sound Passenger-Only Ferry Study early in 2020, starting with a review of previous studies and current passenger-only ferry service to identify trends, lessons learned and best practices. Next steps include developing criteria to assess potential terminals and routes.

Community, jurisdiction and stakeholder input is critical. PSRC encourages information sharing and feedback on potential passenger-only ferry service in the region's communities throughout the project timeline. Please contact us at POF_Study@psrc.org with any information you would like to provide and any questions.

Project Schedule

Schedule

Survey Response

A recent Puget Sound Passenger-Only Ferry (POF) Study online survey provided valuable input regarding potential routes and priorities related to POF service. The online survey ran May 20 – June 4, 2020, with over 10,500 survey responses!

Webinar 2: Initial Study Findings

Find out more about the online survey results, the preliminary study findings, and provide feedback during our next webinar. Join us August 20th from 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. by registering. Please also sign up for our mailing list to get up-to-date announcements about the study and ways to provide input.

Study Information

Background

The Puget Sound region has a long history of reliance on waterborne transportation. Ferries play a key role in the regional transportation system and economy, connecting people to jobs, services and recreation.

The Washington State Legislature directed PSRC to conduct a Puget Sound Passenger-Only Ferry Study across the 12 counties bordering Puget Sound and on Lake Washington and Lake Union. The study will review potential routes and terminals, ridership demand, costs and use of alternative fuels, and suggest recommendations to accelerate the electrification of the ferry fleet.

PSRC previously conducted a study of passenger-only ferry service within the central Puget Sound in 2008, including an analysis of market opportunities, viable routes in the near to long-term, fleets and facilities, and roles and action steps for various agencies throughout the region. These documents are available below.

Today there are two providers of year-round passenger-only ferry service in the region: King County Metro and Kitsap Transit. Passenger-only ferry service and ridership has been expanding in recent years. With the success of these existing services, interest is growing in passenger-only ferry service as another public transportation option connecting to the regional transportation system.

Frequently Asked Questions

HOW IS THE PROJECT COORDINATING WITH AFFECTED TRIBES?

PSRC recognizes the importance of coordination with the Tribes, particularly as relates to ferry routes and terminal locations that potentially affect Tribal fishing areas and culturally important sites, among other things.  Therefore, PSRC has committed to engage with Tribes early in the process by creating a comprehensive list of Tribal contacts, including tribal chairs and leadership to invite to engagement opportunities.  This tribal contact list includes all tribes within the study area.  PSRC has also reached out to Puget Sound tribal governments directly to encourage participation in the study.  PSRC will continue to work with the Tribal Transportation Planning Organization (TTPO) and other contacts provided by tribes on how to work directly with tribes on this study. 

WHAT DATA SETS ARE YOU USING FOR THIS STUDY?

The project team will use the latest available information, which in a study size this large can vary by jurisdiction. Therefore U.S. Census demographic and longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics, along with PSRC latest ridership modeling, and input from studies and stakeholders will be used to inform the study. 

WHICH ROUTES WILL BE CONSIDERED?

The study will examine multiple existing and potential routes on Puget Sound (including portions of the 12 counties bordering Puget Sound) as well as Lake Washington and Lake Union.  The study will be informed by existing studies and new information and stakeholder participation and input. Phase 2 of project engagement, planned in early May, will provide an online platform to identify all routes in consideration.

WHAT FACTORS WILL BE CONSIDERED DURING ANALYSIS OF POTENTIAL ROUTES?

The study will use past and ongoing studies and input from project stakeholders to identify potential routes for review. Evaluation criteria will be used to narrow the field of potential routes down to five for detailed review. Evaluation criteria will include review of multiple factors such as market assessment, navigability, compatibility, time competitiveness, environmental and cultural review, equity analysis points of interest, transportation resiliency and other elements all shaped by stakeholder input.

Detailed route analysis, for up to five routes, will include a deeper dive of the criteria review—including: ridership demand, capital and operating costs, permitting overview and emissions evaluation to outline next steps for implementation.

The project team is interested in your feedback to determine what criteria to include in evaluation.  What should be included in Tier 1 and Tier 2 of the evaluation?  Should Tier 2 criteria be weighted?  If so, how?  Please provide feedback on the evaluation criteria to POF_Study@psrc.org and stay tuned for online engagement.

HOW WILL THE PROJECT ADDRESS EQUITY IN ITS REVIEW AND ANALYSIS?

The study will incorporate equity to the extent feasible, and there are several ways that equity could be considered in evaluating potential passenger-only ferry routes and terminals.  We are interested in hearing your ideas about how to incorporate equity into the evaluation criteria for this study.  Please check back at this webpage later in May for an opportunity to provide feedback.  

HOW WILL THE STUDY ADDRESS EXISTING CAPACITY CONSTRAINTS AT TERMINALS?

The study team is aware of capacity constraints at existing terminal locations, such as the current passenger-only terminal facility in downtown Seattle. Should a route with a terminus at a site with an existing capacity constraint be identified for detailed route analysis, potential sites with available capacity for the anticipated volume of vessels and passengers may be identified.  However, site specific preferred locations will be left for future planning and implementation work, following the study. 

WHAT IS NOT INCLUDED IN THIS STUDY?

The Legislature did not include a review of regional system governance recommendations within the scope of this study.  Therefore, the study will outline the various operating models possible (publicly operated, privately operated or partnerships) but will not make recommendations as to operations or overall governance structure of a regional system. Other elements not included in this study:

  • Financial cost/benefit analysis or potential revenue impact to other ferry systems.
  • Comprehensive environmental review of impacts of specific ferry routes and terminals.  Routes that advance from planning to implementation will need to complete their own environmental review processes prior to implementation.
  • Energy availability assessment at terminal locations. The study will incorporate or reference information from the Washington State Ferries Electrification Plan, currently underway, but will not do an independent assessment.
  • Assessment of existing service providers and their detailed operations.

 

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April 15 Webinar Video

On April 15, PSRC held a webinar to introduce people to the Puget Sound Passenger-Only Ferry Study. You can view the video below or open the presentation.

Resources

2008 Regional Passenger-Only Ferry Study