Farewell, Seattle ferry — but Port Townsend leaders want you back

PORT TOWNSEND – Service between Seattle and Port Townsend stops today, but not the protests and plans.

A grass-roots group has gathered about 2,300 signatures on a petition supporting passenger-only Seattle-Port Townsend runs.

Two comical passenger-ferry videos have been produced, which are linked on www.seattle2pt.com to YouTube.

Or click here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5W2EYMEue8&feature=related .

Business and civic leaders are busy with plans to make the route a permanent convenience.

Washington State Ferries has no plans to reinstate the run to Seattle.

The Seattle passenger ferry was a way to get more foot traffic to Port Townsend business during the holiday shopping season after vehicle-ferry runs were halted between Port Townsend and Keystone on Whidbey Island.

State Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond idled the last of the four 65-car Steel Electrics for safety reasons on Nov. 20.

The 80-year-old boats were the only ferries in the state system that could negotiate Keystone’s narrow, shallow harbor.

Passenger-ferry service to Keystone began on Nov. 25.

Once the Seattle route ends today, the Snohomish, which is permitted to carry 149-passengers, will take over the Port Townsend-Keystone route.

Car ferry service on that route will begin in early February at the latest, when the MV Steilacoom II, a 54-car ferry, is leased by the state from Pierce County.

“The community has survived a catastrophe, but now we need to survive the recovery,” said Tim Caldwell, general manager of the Port Townsend Chamber of Commerce, in an interview.

“In order to do that, we need an auto ferry that’s going to be able to run effectively – and no one’s really sure yet if the Pierce County boat can do that.”

He and others think the best answer is two ferry options away.

  • Create a temporary Edmonds-to-Port Townsend car ferry run.

  • Later, establish a weekend passenger-ferry service from Port Townsend to downtown Seattle, which the Port of Kingston hopes to offer in two years.
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