Kitsap passenger ferry doubling service to meet demand
It looks like Kitsap Transit knew what it was doing when it first floated the idea of passenger-only ferry service to Seattle. Demand is so high that more boats are being added.
Kitsap Transit is preparing to double its service between Bremerton and Seattle. A second passenger-only boat will be added to the service Feb. 24.
“We’ll be having a boat leaving either side, once every 30 minutes instead of once an hour,” Kitsap Transit Executive Director John Clauson said.
Testing late last year showed that adding another fast ferry through Rich Passage did not create damage on the shorelines, so it can go forward with the addition.
Riders will notice a change with this new service. Reservations will not be required on the second boat.
“If we find, later on, that it is something that we believe that we’re going to have to turn on, we can easily turn the reservation system on for those additional sailings,” Clauson said. “To begin with, we’re going to operate those new trips without reservations and see how it goes.”
Clauson appears to have been right on with the pent-up demand. More than 300,000 riders used the ferry between Bremerton and Seattle last year, with the monthly sailings up 7 percent over 2018.
“We certainly did anticipate that we would have good ridership, but it has been growing quicker than we anticipated,” he said.
While the Bremerton-Seattle route has caught most of the attention, the fast ferry running between Kingston and Seattle is almost as popular. It’s been running for just over a year, and had over 175,000 passengers last year. The route from Southworth to Seattle is going to start later this year. That will be five boats running on three routes.
“We’re looking forward to bringing those [boats] into the fleet,” Clauson said. “It certainly makes it much easier for us to provide that reliable service when you have spares.”
But with this growth comes some elbow room problems. The new Seattle passenger-only ferry dock was designed before Kitsap Transit had even started thinking about ferry service. It’s going to get crowded.
“That’s where our big chokepoint is,” Clauson said.
It will take some good scheduling to keep that dock humming.
So the question that many of you have: Can I move to Kitsap County and still work in Seattle? This ferry service is making that option more reasonable, but you better make up your mind quickly. Zillow lists the Kitsap County real estate market as “very hot.” The median home price is getting close to $400,000, and is expected to grow 4 percent this year.
Average rents in Kitsap County are running just over $1,800 a month.
Check out more of Chris’ Chokepoints.