Seattle’s transit system may be radically behind the times as compared with other cities worldwide, but commuters are about to see at least one form of improvement… if they travel between Seattle and Vancouver.
Starting April 26th, Seattle’s Kenmore Air and Vancouver, B.C.’s Harbour Air will be launching a seaplane service between South Lake Union and downtown Vancouver. The air service takes just under an hour, a considerable drop from the three-hour trip by car, which is unpredictable because of the variable border crossing times. Flying commercially via Seatac Airport is relatively inexpensive and the flight itself only takes an hour, but travelers need to account at least 2 hours of additional time to get to the airport and get through security on time.
This new service will run $285 one-way.
Microsoft is celebrating the service, since the company has a large presence in Vancouver. They have been a leading voice in the demand for high-speed travel between Seattle and the Canadian city, and even supplemented Washington State’s $300,000 budget to study a plan for fast trains with $50,000. British Columbia’s government also said it would match Washington’s budget to study corridor service, which would reach Portland as well.
“This new direct seaplane route between Seattle and Vancouver, B.C., will be an important link in connecting the Cascadia Innovation Corridor,” Microsoft President Brad Smith said in a news release. “This association between two historic Pacific Northwest companies will accelerate cross-border business and collaboration for the entire region.”
The launch of this seaplane service comes after years of talks, but the Vancouver Harbour Flight Centre’s brand new customs facility and pilot program announced earlier this month seem to have been the last step.
Numerous businesses in Seattle’s Lake Union will benefit from this new service, including Amazon of course, who announced last fall that it would be doubling its Vancouver-based workforce from 1,000 people.
“With approximately 20,000 annual passengers currently traveling between Seattle and Victoria, we’re confident this new route will support the growing demand for further cross-border travel,” said Kenmore Air President Todd Banks. “Increasing cross-border collaboration has been top of mind for government, technology and business leaders alike, and we believe this route provides a fast, convenient and much needed solution.”
The new seaplane service will offer round-trip flights Monday through Friday, which accommodate nine passengers. All passengers must present a valid passport and will be subject to customs inspection upon arrival.