Kitsap Transit, an independent agency that operates bus and ferry service in Kitsap County, has a new website summarizing its plan to revive high-speed passenger ferry service.

As we reported previously, if voters approve a 0.3 percent sales tax (3 cents on a $10 purchase) the plan would start with a new route between Bremerton and Seattle within six months. While this duplicates an existing Washington State Ferries route, the fast ferry would take less than half the time and be more fuel efficient. Within a few years, additional routes would open between Seattle and the unincorporated communities of Southworth and Kingston, cutting down the comparable transit commute times by about two-thirds.

Surveying indicates less than half of Kitsap County residents have heard of the plan. If recent news coverage and public forums are any indication, there is healthy skepticism. Opponents argue that the plan would benefit only a few of the peninsula’s 260,000 residents. But proponents say the service could be a boon for local economic development as Seattle workers seek affordable housing within easy reach. And one in six of the county’s employed residents (14,000 people) already work in Seattle, so the benefit would be almost immediate for current ferry commuters and it may attract new public transit passengers.

The sales tax revenue would help fund construction of new dock facilities, build new boats, and pay King County’s water taxi division to operate the vessels. Kitsap Transit already has one 118-passenger ferry ready to go, the Rich Passage I, that was built as a low-wake prototype. Washington State Ferries previously offered Bremerton-Seattle fast ferry service but ended it when their boats were forced to slow down due to shoreline erosion.

A round trip fare would cost $12, and for the first time cross-sound service will be discounted by 50 percent for low-income riders. The service would operate at least during commuting hours all year and have additional runs Monday through Saturday from May through September.

To learn more, visit kitsapferries.com.

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6 COMMENTS

  1. “More fuel efficient” than WSF doesn’t make sense. Maybe it’s more fuel efficient than other small express boat services, but it can’t be more fuel efficient than a ferry. Plus we aren’t talking about replacing a ferry sailing with an express boat sailing.

    I’m not sure about the value of a service that duplicates an existing ferry run that’s 28 vs. 60min. First, after you add in total travel time to and from the docks and time waiting for departure, the time saved is less compelling. Second, there is deminished passenger service on express boats. I don’t think this one has a coffee bar, there’s less space to spread out, there’s more pitch and roll and they have smaller restrooms.

    Maybe a 28 minute sailing would work with coodinated coach service to early AM Sea-Tac departures, or as a luxury game-day service to CenturyLink and Safeco Fields, but that would mean 4am sailings and 10pm sailings, which I doubt are being considered.

    • The only late sailings would be May-October Friday and Saturday nights but even then, I feel this is a solution in search of a problem. Commuters have chosen to live over here and understand it is a long commute. I am curious as to why a taxpayer let alone fixed income seniors should be having to pay taxable purchases towards a venture that was voted down twice in 2003 and 2007.

      We have an airporter bus shuttle for the early morning runs if needed and most of the time, schedule coordination is key with flights.

  2. It’s inevitable that people who hate taxes will come out against this. However, I’m pretty excited. For less than the interest people earn in their savings accounts, the region could expand the area people can commute to high paying jobs and create high paying jobs in more places.

  3. “a boon for local economic development as Seattle workers seek affordable housing within easy reach”

    So we want to displace people who currently live in affordable bremerton with Seattle commuters? That’s their selling point?

  4. Scott this website actually has been up for a couple of months since August I believe.

    The agency has held multiple public meetings with I have to say pitiful attendance mostly from opponents which begs the question of if participation is low why are they having so many meetings? The 23,000 hours of extra bus service only funds 6 extra buses 6 days a week 12 hours a day. That would likely mean only 6 routes get improved frequency or you make 6 new routes or a combination of the two.

    What will likely be needed is a true restructure of the bus system in the county to better service the growing population. They are in the process of doing that but I feel the agency has lost sight of serving trips within the county and full focus on a sales tax increase to fund passenger ferries.

  5. It’s a really poor plan. Rider subsidies will be between $44 and $78 per round trip. In a perverse sense, poor residents of the county will subsidize commutes of highly paid Seattle workers. The plan has no actual money to start service at Kingston or southworth and they will take on more debt to make those happen. I expect it will go down at the ballot for a 3rd time. Meanwhile, there’s still no Sunday bus service. Kitsap transit should be ashamed.

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