Ferry ridership growing in the region

Steep increases in passenger-only ferry boardings

Ferry ridership in the region is growing, with 12.1 million riders using the ferry system during the first six months of 2019.

The ferry system in the central Puget Sound region includes all routes operated by Washington State Ferries and Pierce County, which serve both cars and walk-on passengers. It also includes passenger-only ferry service provided by King County Metro and Kitsap Transit.

Ridership on passenger-only ferry services in particular has grown at a fast pace in recent years.


Comparing ridership for the first six months of 2019 to the same time period in 2014 shows an overall increase of 104%. Passenger-only ferry service provided by Kitsap Transit increased 126% during the same time period, while King County Metro grew by 78%.

A breakdown by operator shows a significant increase in the share of boardings on routes provided by Kitsap Transit. In the first six months of 2014, Kitsap Transit’s ferry service accounted for 53% of all passenger-only ferry boardings. This share increased to 59% when looking at the first six months of 2019.

The growth in boardings corresponds to increases in service frequency over this time period and launching of new routes, including Kitsap Transit’s Bremerton to Seattle and Kingston to Seattle fast ferry service. Interest is growing in expanding foot ferries in other parts of the region.

PSRC is conducting a study of passenger-only ferry service, which will include a review of potential routes and terminals, ridership demand, costs, and use of alternative fuels.  

You can learn more about ferry ridership in the latest issue of Puget Sound Trends.