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November 10, 2011 at 12:18 PM

Operator chosen for new Seattle-Port Townsend ferry catering to tourists

Puget Sound Express, a Port Townsend company that runs whale-watching tours and other ferry service, has been picked to operate a new passenger ferry between Port Townsend and Seattle.

Officials hope to begin service in 2013.

“We are gratified to have been selected for this service, and are looking forward to creating a convenient, fast and comfortable connection between Port Townsend and Seattle,” said Pete Hanke, company co-owner, in a release.

The new route was trigged by a $1.3 million federal grant the Port of Port Townsend received earlier this year to begin passenger ferry service. Port Townsend officials say tourism is a $50-million-a-year industry.

Unlike other passenger ferries that cater to commuters, the Port Townsend boat will target tourists. Larry Crockett,  CQport executive director, said the port is considering fares from $20 to $25 each way.

A passenger ferry operated briefly on the Port Townsend-Seattle route around Christmas in 2007 to help businesses through the holidays after the state shut down the old steel electric car ferries that served Port Townsend.

Port Townsend officials hope a passenger ferry will draw tourists and Seattle convention-goers who are looking for a short getaway.

Puget Sound Express now runs a summer passenger ferry between Port Townsend and Friday Harbor and also operates whale watching and wildlife tours throughout the year. It also has provided emergency service when state ferries have been disabled.

The company has two boats, a 72-seat Glacier Spirit and a 30-seat Olympus. Puget Sound Express will be working with the port to build or buy a new boat for the Seattle service.

Comments | More in General news | Topics: Hanke family, port townsend ferry, Puget Sound Express

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