Travel by water in Seattle

When looking at real estate in Seattle, prospective homebuyers may realize that transportation is a little different in the Emerald City. Seattle is home to the largest ferry network in the country, which is also the third largest of its kind in the world. Washington State Ferries are a vital part of Puget Sound's transportation system, and many people take them to commute to work.

This sophisticated system makes residents' travels to work a little more pleasant, and it doubles as a tourist attraction. Thousands of residents venture aboard a boat from Bainbridge Island or Bremerton on a daily basis while taking in breathtaking views of Mount Rainier and the Seattle skyline on their way to work or school in the city.

Currently, Washington State Ferries run 450 sailings a day, but like any transportation system, there are delays and cancellations. During the summer time, residents can look to water taxis that provide quick transit across Elliott Bay between West Seattle and downtown. While the water taxis are a fun tourist attraction, they can also provide a great service for any resident of Alki or West Seattle who is running late for a meeting.

In late spring, residents of the popular Lake Union region proposed a mini-ferry system that would give the community more access to the city. The proposal included one or two 14-passenger boats that travel round-trip to South Lake Union and a spot near the University of Washington, off Brooklyn Avenue. The trip would take about two minutes longer than the bus and cost passengers $5.

"We have to make money, we can't go to taxpayers to ask for money," Captain Larry Kezner, who runs the Sunday Ice Cream Cruise, told University District News. "Our business model is set up that if we run at 50 percent capacity we would more than break even. I would be happy with that."

At the end of September, the county Department of Transportation submitted budget plans for new water taxi vessels. The 2013-14 budget plan would include $12.5 million for the design and construction of two new water taxis, because some in use today are more than 20 years old and prone to break down. According to the plan, federal grants will cover 80 percent of the cost. These boats would carry 225 to 250 passengers each, and the arrival is expected by mid-2014.

By the end of the year, Seattle residents may even have the opportunity to own an all-terrain vehicle called the Quadski. The Gibbs Sports Amphibians-produced amphibious ATV can reach speeds of up to 45 miles per hour on land and water, making for a stress-free commute across the water.