Has the Kitsap fast ferry service finally hit its stride?
After a somewhat rocky start, the new fast ferry system between Kitsap County and Seattle may be hitting its stride.
The passenger-only service between Bremerton and Seattle was plagued with service disruptions during the first few months. Kitsap Transit executive director John Clauson admitted it wasn’t what he wanted to see.
“The launch was a bit troubling,” he said. “We had some mechanical issues with the vessel early on that took us a while to get to the bottom of.”
The engine continued to conk-out during the first few months. The problem was traced back to the boat’s ventilation system.
“A turbo-charger went out because of heat,” Clauson said. “We had a head gasket problem because of heat. We had a couple of situations where it got so warm in the engine compartment that it triggered the fire-suppression system.”
But with that fixed, Clauson said the last mechanical service delay was in October.
Ferry service expands
A few weeks ago, the Kitsap Transit board gave the go-ahead to buy two new ferries that will help backup and extend service between Bremerton and Seattle.
“We’ll certainly have a backup vessel, which has been one of our challenges,” he said. “The second one will provide us with a backup but will allow us to actually add a second vessel into the system.”
Those boats should come online in early 2019.
Later this year, service between Kingston and Seattle will begin. Kitsap Transit purchased a boat from New York. It’s on its way to Kingston now. It will be completely retrofitted before entering service over the summer. Clauson said it will provide a 35-minute trip from Kingston to Seattle, which is much faster than you can make that trip today. The Washington State Ferry trip between Kingston and Edmonds runs 30 minutes.
Most passengers seem to like the new service. Most commuter hour runs are close to full. The agency has also added mid-day service.
One of the biggest complaints continues to be over the reservation system, but Kitsap Transit is still working on improving it. A new consultant will be brought on board to figure out the best way to improve it.