More and more people using foot ferries for Seattle commute

Sep 24, 2019, 10:40 AM
bremerton foot ferry, passenger ferry...
(Kitsap Transit)
(Kitsap Transit)

If you had to choose the better commute, sitting in stop-and-go traffic or a scenic boat ride, most would probably pick the latter. It seems that commuters are increasingly making that choice as foot ferry service in-and-out of Seattle continues to gain popularity.

Remembering the Infamous Kitsap Ferry Riot of 1987

Washington’s ferry system is experiencing a rising trend in riders. A total of 12.1 million people used Washington’s ferries in the first six months of 2019. But in looking at the numbers, the Puget Sound Regional Council notes that passenger-only service, aka foot ferries, are taking on a significant share. Without cars, the ferries travel much faster across the water.

There were about 430,000 passenger ferry riders in the first six months of 2014 — between King County Metro’s water taxi in Seattle and service provided by Kitsap Transit on the other side of the Sound. By 2018, that number shot up to 707,000 riders. This rise is partly due to increased service — there are more ferries and scheduled rides to take on more people.

But in the first six months of 2019, foot ferry service was already the highest levels ever recorded at 876,000 riders. CAPTION

Again, increased foot ferry service can take some of the credit for the increased ridership. But as Kitsap Transit is finding out, demand is also playing a considerable factor.

“When we turn on the reservations’ availability for a month, within five to 10 minutes, all of the available seats for the entire month have been booked,” Kitsap Transit Executive Director John Clauson told KIRO Radio’s Chris Sullivan.

Starting this week, Kitsap Transit began two-boat service, adding four additional sailings to the Seattle-Bremerton run. It’s only a four-week test run (they have to prove the increased ferry traffic won’t damage the shoreline). If successful, increased passenger ferry runs between Bremerton and Seattle could begin before summer 2020.

Another factor could be the growth in Kitsap County, which is feeding off the growth in Seattle. In 2016, Bremerton began a marketing campaign to entice Seattle workers to move across Puget Sound. They could potentially use the ferry to commute and enjoy cheaper rent. Though, as the Seattle side has discovered, newcomers can drive up rents and draw down on the housing supply. By 2018, a new mayor of Bremerton halted all marketing campaigns as the city crossed its fingers and hoped commuters would forget about them.

“I don’t want to speak for everybody, but a lot of folks who are having their rents increased quite a bit or are being forced out, are looking at it as a wave of Seattleites coming in and doing this,” Bremerton Mayor Greg Wheeler said in May 2018.

“The people moving here … are also concerned about the problems with this,” he said. “Let’s face it, they left Seattle because they couldn’t afford rents anymore. Or they had no chance at all, ever, of home ownership. They know what it’s like. They were just there … can’t say it’s a black and white that everybody doesn’t want people from Seattle here. That’s not the case. It’s a mixture of emotions.”

But as Mayor Wheeler also noted at the time, there was no slowing it down — people were moving to Bremerton either way. And it appears many of those people have made good use of the passenger ferry service to Seattle.

Local News

Climate Pledge Arena...
Associated Press

Climate Pledge Arena ready to get Kraken for hockey debut

The first event ever inside Climate Pledge Arena — whether it will be considered the official first event or not — was far from a soft opening.
1 day ago
shipping containers...
KIRO 7 News Staff

Approximately 40 shipping containers adrift off Washington coast

Approximately 40 shipping containers were lost off a ship 43 miles west of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, according to the United States Coast Guard.
1 day ago
Kathryn Altena

Gov. Inslee, Washington groups prepare to welcome Afghan refugees

In the coming months, 1,400 Afghan refugees are expected to pass through the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport upon their arrival in Washington.
1 day ago
King County Councilmember Rod Dembowski...
Nick Bowman

King County Councilmember accused of history of ‘verbally abusive’ behavior toward female staff

King County Councilmember Rod Dembowski is facing accusations detailing a history of verbally abusive behavior toward female staff members.
1 day ago
Microsoft campus, vaccine...
KIRO 7 News Staff

Racial harassment allegations at Microsoft campus construction site in Redmond

Racial harassment on the job — that’s what a Black construction employee says he was dealing with for months at the build site on Microsoft’s campus in Redmond.
1 day ago
Jaime Herrera Beutler...
Nick Bowman

Washington Rep. Herrera Beutler breaks from GOP party line again over Bannon contempt vote

Washington Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler was among nine Republicans who voted in favor of holding Steve Bannon in contempt on Thursday.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles


Medicare open enrollment for 2022 starts Oct. 15 and SHIBA can help!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]

How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.

Small, Minority-Owned Businesses in King County and Pierce County Can Now Apply For $10,000 Relief Grants Through Comcast RISE

Businesses in King County and Pierce County can apply beginning on October 1, 2021, at www.ComcastRISE.com for a chance to receive a $10,000 relief grant.
More and more people using foot ferries for Seattle commute