Privately funded water taxi planned between Renton, South Lake Union

Mark Helvie works at Boeing in Renton and lives in Ballard.

"My commute's pretty bad," he said. "It takes me an hour in the morning. It depends on traffic going back. Tuesday, it took me two hours."

Now, there's a new push for a 45-minute Renton-Seattle connection using a water taxi on Lake Washington.

SECO Development plans to privately finance a pilot project, using a high-speed, low-wake catamaran.

"We are committed to establishing water taxi service on Lake Washington by 2020," said Rocale Timmons, director of planning and development for SECO Development.

Her company is developing a new hotel, residential and office complex on the shores of Lake Washington, in a part of Renton people are beginning to refer to as Southport.

The water taxi would dock outside the new Hyatt Regency Lake Washington at Seattle's Southport.

It would run to South Lake Union in Seattle, at a location the company has not yet determined.

"This would provide a connection between the densest communities we have around the lake," Timmons said.

King County runs water taxi service between downtown Seattle and both West Seattle and Vashon Island, and the county says it broke a ridership record in September.

Last year, Kitsap County voters approved passenger-only service between Seattle and Bremerton, Kingston and Southworth.

Tacoma is studying its own fast ferry service to Seattle, following in the footsteps of the Mosquito Fleet a century ago, when small ferries crisscrossed local waters.

Two years ago, King County did a study about expanding water taxi service.

It looked at many routes, but found only three viable enough for further study.

Those were between Ballard and Seattle's central waterfront, Kenmore and the University of Washington, and Kirkland and the University of Washington.

A Renton to South Lake Union route did not make that list.

"We definitely think there will be a market (for a Renton route)," Timmons said.

Although the company is privately financing the pilot project, Timmons said she hopes it could operate as a public-private partnership in the future, or possibly as a venture with another private company.

King County Executive Dow Constantine provided a supportive quote for the company's press release, but the county is providing no money.

Many details about water taxi service, like the number of sailings and fares, have not yet been determined.

SECO envisions a high-end experience for as many as 150 passengers.

A press release describes amenities for commuters that include "standing desks, high-speed wireless internet, and the ability to order coffee and snacks to be delivered directly from your phone."

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