CHOKEPOINTS

Kitsap County foot ferry service could change the way many commute

Jun 22, 2017, 6:39 AM | Updated: 11:20 am
(Contributed/Kitsap Transit)...
(Contributed/Kitsap Transit)
(Contributed/Kitsap Transit)

When voters pass a tax measure for infrastructure improvements, they normally have to wait a long time to see their money at work. Not in Kitsap County, where a tax passed in November will start paying off next month.

The high-speed passenger-only ferry service promised to voters starts service July 10 with runs between Bremerton and Seattle. In exchange, Kitsap County residents are paying a three-tenths of one percent increase in its sales tax.

Kitsap Transit Executive Director John Clauson said it’s primarily a commuter ferry, but it will provide extra crossings for visitors, too.

“We’re going to be running three round-trips in the morning and three round-trips in the evening, Monday through Friday,” he said. “Saturday we will have an all-day schedule that will go later into the evening.”

Clauson hopes to add more service in August before scaling back to just daily commuter trips in October.

This 118-person fast ferry will run just like other passenger-only ferries, with one exception.

“We have put in a reservation system,” Clauson said. “There will be a segment of the vessel that will be set aside for walk-ups.”

The split will favor reserved seating, with 75 percent of each run set aside for reservations. If you’re not at the boat 10 minutes before sailing, you will lose your spot. The fare is about $2 more than the Washington State ferry run between Bremerton and Seattle. That pencils out to $2 into Seattle and $10 into Bremerton. But the crossing time will be cut in half — about 30 minutes — and much less loading time because there are no cars.

Kitsap County is hoping this new service will enhance its image as an alternative to King County for people looking for cheaper housing and a quieter home lifestyle. Clauson said they are scheduling a tour of Seattle-area realtors to show-off the new service and how it makes living on the other side of Puget Sound viable for people who work in downtown Seattle.

Coldwell Banker Bain says developers are excited for this ferry and what it means for a reasonable commute to downtown Seattle. With Seattle’s average home price now over $700,000 and King County coming in at $560,000, an average home for $307,000 in Kitsap County looks mighty fine.

Kitsap Transit is going to add passenger ferry service between Kingston and Seattle next year. Service to Southworth will begin in 2020. It is currently buying five new boats to handle the increased service.

Tell Chris about a Chokepoint or ask a traffic question @kirotraffic via Twitter.

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Kitsap County foot ferry service could change the way many commute