Kingston-Seattle ferry bounces on iffy financial seas

by Tim Flanagan on November 4, 2011

C.B. Hall, doctor at Crosscut:

[The Spirit of Kingston passenger ferry]

If ever a sea-going vessel has sailed uphill, here it is the much-beleaguered passenger-only ferry between Kingston and Seattle’s Colman Dock. Following in the wake of the Aqua Express, a passenger-only service that failed back in 2005, the Port of Kingston’s SoundRunner service has seen no shortage of headwinds since its launch a year ago. And without a substantial increase in patronage, the service appears doomed to follow the Aqua Express into history.

Beginning Tuesday (Nov. 1), however, holders of the ORCA regional transit smart card became able to use the card to pay their fares aboard the port’s boat, the Spirit of Kingston. Port of Kingston executive director Kori Henry has high hopes that introduction of the convenient card will come to the undertaking’s rescue.

Speaking on Monday (Oct. 31), Henry said the Spirithas been averaging about 30 passengers per run, but needs to carry at least 80 to break even — that is, to remove the need for any operating subsidy. Last winter, the port had been looking at a 130-passenger threshold as assuring solvency, but Henry noted that, since then, “we’ve cut the budget a lot, so that our burn rate [of cash] per month has come way down.”

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