Waterborne Transportation Study

The Pierce County Ferry System's Waterborne Transportation Study was completed in 2015. It is available here.

During the study, Pierce County analyzed:
  • Population and demographic changes projected through 2034
  • Changes to ferry service that would enhance island economic vitality and livability
  • The financial sustainability of the ferry system
  • The 14-year capital needs of the ferry system

Study advisory group 

A study advisory group was formed to provide input on the needs of the ferry system and the implications of any alternatives to ferry staff and BERK Consulting, a Seattle firm that was hired to lead the study on Pierce County’s behalf.

The 10-member advisory group was made up of stakeholders including ferry riders, residents from both islands, and representatives from the Town of Steilacoom, Anderson Island Fire and Rescue, and Steilacoom Historical School District No. 1. The advisory group met several times in 2015. 

Three phases

The study was conducted in three phases.

Phase 1:

The current situation of the ferry system was assessed to understand the system’s history and outlook, and to identify key challenges and opportunities for the future. The county analyzed population and ridership, fare structure and ticketing system technology, the system’s finances, and service including vessels, terminals, and operations.

Phase 2:

The county developed alternatives for service provision, fare structure and technology, and cost and revenue strategies. Criteria for evaluating these alternatives were developed and built based on the Ferry Performance Measure report. Riders were asked to take an origin and destination study in early 2015.

Phase 3:

The implications to the alternatives to ridership, finances, customers, and communities were examined before the plan was developed. During this phase, Pierce County hosted two public meetings. The draft and final plans were issued in early summer 2015.

The recommendations were then presented to Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy and the Pierce County Council Economic Infrastructure and Development Committee.

The ferry system was last analyzed by the 2003 Waterborne Transportation Study.

2015 Public Meetings 

May 14, Anderson Island Elementary School: Options for fare and service policies, 
Station Handouts, Station Boards, McNeil & New Markets, Comment Form

June 11, Anderson Island Elementary School: Preliminary Draft Recommendations
Station Handouts, Station Boards, Comment Form

Advisory Group Meeting Documents

Dec. 8, 2014: Agenda, Roles and Responsibilities, Project Overview, Project Schedule, Roster and Team Contacts

Jan. 14, 2015: Composition

Feb. 11, 2015: Agenda, Draft Situation Assessment, Meeting Summary

March 11, 2015: Agenda, Alternative Evaluation Criteria, Alternative Options, Meeting Summary

April 16, 2015: Agenda, Meeting Packet - Service

April 23, 2015: Agenda, Meeting Packet, Meeting Summary

May 27, 2015: Agenda, Public Comments, Draft Recommendations, Meeting Notes

July 1, 2015: Agenda, Meeting Presentation, Compiled Comments, Recommendation Ranking Form, Meeting Notes

July 10, 2015 AICAB Meeting Presentation on the Waterborne Transportation Study
Contact Us
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Customer Service: (253) 588-1950
Refunds or Purchase Issues: (253) 798-7251
Ferry Administration: (253) 798-7250
After Hours Emergency: (253) 798-6000
Steilacoom Landing:
56 Union Ave.
Steilacoom, WA 98388

Office Location:
2702 S 42nd St, Ste 201
Tacoma, WA 98409-7322