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caption: A sailboat is shown in Elliott Bay as the sun sets on Monday, July 26, 2022, in Seattle. Temperatures are expected to reach 90 degrees this week in the Seattle area.
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A sailboat is shown in Elliott Bay as the sun sets on Monday, July 26, 2022, in Seattle. Temperatures are expected to reach 90 degrees this week in the Seattle area.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Ferry service ... from Des Moines? Walk-on sailings to Seattle launch this week

KUOW talks with Des Moines City Manager Michael Matthias about the city's new walk-on ferry service to Seattle.

Starting this week, commuters have a new option to travel into Seattle from the south, thanks to a new walk-on ferry out of Des Moines.

“We’re located on the (Puget) Sound, and the Sound provides opportunities that land-based transportation doesn’t provide,” said Des Moines City Manager Michael Matthias. “We wanted to encourage people to come to Des Moines, experience Des Moines; we wanted to provide a way for our residents, and visitors, and people who live down here to get to Seattle in a convenient way. And we thought that this not only provided recreational and fun opportunities to be on the Sound, but also contributed to alternatives to sitting in your car, stuck on I-5, going up to Seattle, paying for parking…”

After studying the potential for a walk-on ferry, the city of Des Moines footed the bill to bring one to town. Currently, the ferry is a pilot program to see how well it will be embraced. The pilot is slated to run through Oct. 9.

Des Moines is located to Seattle's south, along the shore of Puget Sound between SeaTac and Federal Way. The ferry will sail four times a day between Des Moines and Seattle’s Bell Harbor. It can carry about 60 walk-on passengers per trip. An adult ticket costs $10.

“It’s really cool. It’s very sleek. It’s fast ... we had full ridership on our initial cruises, and it took 30 minutes exactly to get from Des Moines to Seattle,” Matthias said.

The city will continue to monitor how well it is used, and why — recreationally or for commuting? Another goal is to bring Seattleites down to Des Moines to hang out.

"We hope that the experience of coming to Des Moines will show people a unique, different look at Puget Sound than you would find elsewhere," Matthias said.

Matthias also said that a benefit of the ferry will be a decreased carbon footprint of car commuters. The city has a shuttle to take people from the Angle Lake light rail station to the ferry.