New foot ferry makes the trip to downtown Seattle in 26 minutes

Mike Lindblom

Seattle Times reporter

Kitsap Transit will begin service on its third high-speed ferry route Monday morning, a 26-minute direct passenger-only journey between Southworth and downtown Seattle.

The 255-seat Enetai made four exhibition trips across Puget Sound to Elliott Bay on Saturday, with a total of 325 passengers traveling at a speed of 42 miles per hour. It’s faster than taking a state ferry to Fauntleroy, followed by a bus or car ride through West Seattle to downtown.

“It stayed smooth and even, it wasn’t listed side by side. I’m pretty excited to have this ship underway, ”said Joel Sparrow, a long-time commuter from Southworth to the Chinatown International District in Seattle.

Sparrow predicts the direct journey will save hundreds of people an hour an hour. Prior to COVID-19, many park-and-rides combined with a state ferry to Vashon followed by a walk-in King County ferry from Vashon to downtown, he said.

The Enetai, which was built by Nichols Brothers Boat Builders on Whidbey Island for $ 12.5 million, is funded through local sales taxes that also support passenger ferries from Bremerton and Kingston to Seattle.

The Southworth Ferry will make eight scheduled trips in each direction every weekday. Fares are $ 2 to Seattle and $ 10 back to Southworth – but free in April. Kitsap transit spokesman Sanjay Bhatt said 140,000 passengers are expected to travel annually and the bus connection to the dock will be expanded.