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Local group operating an inter island Water Taxi service; seeks a subsidy

  • Written by Justin Paulsen and four others

We are the Community Water Taxi (CWT), a group of concerned island residents running an emergency and on-call inter island water taxi service within San Juan County (SJC) separate from the Washington State Ferries (WSF).

We try to help people get to medical appointments, work, court appointments and school when the inter island service is disrupted. We have been operating the water taxi since August. Ultimately, our goal is to make this service a subsidized fare.

Residents of SJC are uniquely aware that the capacity of WSF is stretched beyond the needs of our community. There is little that we can do to repair that system. The States’ own projections show improvements are years away. It is time for us to begin to determine ways that we, as residents of SJC, can begin to take some control of our transportation needs.

Providing this service has prompted us to approach County & State officials about funding a pilot program for a County-owned / operated or public / private partnership service to supplement WSF. We have also reached out to local private donors and nonprofits. The response has been very positive.

We will be releasing a survey in January to gather necessary information to help us understand the effects of WSF service disruptions and the needs of our local community. Based on those responses, outside research, and real on-the-water work, we hope to create a system which we can trial-run in the spring. We understand that a project of this nature is laden with pitfalls, but we also believe that without starting this effort, our island community connections will continue to erode.

In the meantime, please head over to our Instagram @community_water_taxi to follow us for updates on our work or the status of service when the inter island goes down. If you have any questions, send us an email at community watertaxi [at] gmail.com.

We look forward to hearing from our island neighbors as we move forward in this process.

Ed Andrews

Tom Bridge, USCG Captain, Island Water Taxi & Rupali Barge

Carey Eskridge, Executive Director of the Orcas Chamber of Commerce

Justin Paulsen, SJC Ferry Advisory Committee Member

Sandy Playa, Coordinator, Island Rides

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