New Seattle-Port Townsend walk/bike ferry in the works

The Seattle-Port Townsend bike+ferry route today. Google Maps bike directions.

Getting to Port Townsend with your bike could get a whole lot easier when plans for a new passenger ferry come to fruition as early as spring 2013. The PTLeader has the story:

According to the draft plan, the terminals would be located at the Point Hudson Marina in Port Townsend and the Bell Harbor Marina, the heart of Seattle cruise ship operations. In order to compete with traditional ferry routes and other passenger-only ferries, the 42-mile crossing is planned to take 70-80 minutes.

Eric Toews, planning analyst for the port, said the high interest in both Port Townsend and Seattle as recreation and business destinations should ensure customer interest.

“This is distinguished because it really is two very popular destination towns,” Toews said.

As Seattle Transit Blog points out, the seemingly weird location in the cruise ship terminal makes sense because the state’s plans for Colman Dock do not include passenger ferries, which is very unfortunate (Is there a movement to get this changed? Should bike advocates be pushing for this?).

Current transit and biking routes between the two cities are very long—not necessarily a bad thing if you’re just out to ride your bike, but not good for transportation purposes. Another bonus for people on bike: Work on the Olympic Discovery Trail keeps getting more complete, providing a fantastic non-highway route for recreation cycling and for getting to Port Angeles. From STB:

[R]egarding bikes on board: any boat would include room for bikes, although as no boat has yet been leased or purchased, the precise capacity is unknown. As a bike-friendly town, and the gateway to the growing Olympic Discovery Trail, Port Townsend is a great place to take a bike, so this is a smart decision. Once the ODT is complete enough to ride between Port Townsend and Port Angeles without riding on the 101, this could be a component of some amazing bike plus ferry (plus train) loops.

The Port Townsend/Seattle bike cultures often try to be more connected, and this ferry could be a boon for bike tourism on the Peninsula. With the planned improvements to the Hood Canal Bridge also coming soon, the Seattle-to-Port Townsend ride might just become even more popular.

The ferry will not be subsidized, so tickets will probably be a little pricey (at least compared to state-run ferries). But just thinking about the new possibilities it will open up is cause for excitement.

Would you use this ferry?

About Tom Fucoloro

Founder and Editor of Seattle Bike Blog.
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15 Responses to New Seattle-Port Townsend walk/bike ferry in the works

  1. Jessica says:

    Seeing as how it cost me at least $30 in gas to get there and back, I would gladly pay that, and even a little more, to be able to ferry and bike to see my step-dad.

  2. David Amiton says:

    This sounds amazing! Not needing to bike back to Seattle on Sunday will make Saturday rides out to PT a whole lot more attractive. Can’t wait!!

  3. Chuck says:

    This sounds like a great idea! Would make bike vacations so much easier.

  4. Anthony says:

    I was just riding the Gold Creek trail this weekend behind Sequim. Wonderful, btw. If you guys and gals ever get a chance, try out the Lower Dungie/Gold Creek trail network, a blast to ride off-road on!

    I don’t see the ferry surviving in the long run. Reason is that with two boats already serving PT in the summer they aren’t always full, so why would one passenger ferry make it work whereas the WSF runs can’t?

    Don’t get me wrong, I want to be so wrong on this one…but it doesn’t look good for the future of this potential route.

    • Bruce Nourish says:

      The current boats serving PT are car ferries to Coupeville; this is an almost totally different market than a foot ferry from Seattle. The travel times for Seattlites in a car via Coupeville are way longer than they would be on this foot ferry. And in the summer, I believe those car ferries are often full during the day. If you read the Leader article, you’ll notice they’re planning a seasonal sailing schedule, precisely for the reasons you describe.

  5. Jon Korneliussen says:

    I’d love to use the ferry. That would be a great weekend getaway with or without a bike. Cost, within reason, is not as important to me as schedule and frequency. Maybe the same boat can stop at Kingston or continue to Friday Harbor to expand travel options?

  6. Anthony says:

    Bruce, I only live four miles from the Keystone dock. Once again, I hope you and others are right. Sure want this run to work out for everyone….

    Yes, the boats can be full at times. Hopefully that does justify the direct connection between Seattle and PT. But even with last weekends boat on the two sailing we were on, it wasn’t packed to the gills.

  7. Betsy says:

    This ferry is a great idea. I would definitely take it at least monthly. Port Townsend is our favorite weekend getaway, and is a very “bikey” town. I would love to be able to leave the car and just ride bikes without the entire 2-3 day commitment of riding the entire way and back. Now, if they would only bring back the Fort Worden Hostel…

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  9. Pingback: New Seattle-Port Townsend walk/bike ferry in the works | Port Townsend Bicycle Association

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  11. steve 2 says:

    Nope, the ferry idea is dead in the water as of 2012/November.

    commercial entities decided it wouldn’t pencil out and the Port of PT is returning the $$ to the feds. You’ll still have to swim, drive, fly, or walk to get there from here.

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