Tag Archives: Ferries

Bremerton Ferry Tickets, Con’t.

I’m a day later than I’d hoped in posting this, since the letter below was published Tuesday. But if you don’t mind some day-old commentary on an issue our commentors seem to love, here you are. As a token to ask any good Bremerton reader’s forgiveness with, here’s a cool old photo of 4th Street our Web Editor, Angela Dice, found this week.

One thing I like about newspapers is that they published viewpoints critical of themselves. How many other industries do that? The trucking company makes it real obvious that you to call an 800 number to complain about bad driving, but that’s as close to announcing fault as I can think of off the top of my head.

There just aren’t many that allow customers that kind of ability to point out shortcomings, and my guess is publishing such criticism isn’t taught at most business schools. But like many unique quirks that make the news industry run slightly different from other private enterprise, it’s also endearing in a way. (At least until the anonymous commentors join in the boot party.)

We don’t only do it to stand by our mission of openness and community dialogue, though that’s a big part of the practice. If we can dish it out, we should be able to take it. But criticism is also helpful in bringing up a range of ideas when done fairly — like in Petra Hellthaler’s letter to the editor in response to Ed Friedrich’s story on ferry tickets (which was, incidentally, prompted by another letter to the editor). She brings up a few points that didn’t make the cut as Ed reported on the question he posed to WSF officials.

I liked two things Petra brought up for discussion:
1.) Do Bainbridge customers ever get Bremerton tickets?
2.) Did the Bremerton ridership increase she references coincide with self-serve kiosks being installed at Colman Dock?

My take, if I’m understanding her points correctly, from what we talked about in editing the story:
1.) Probably, and Bainbridge riders probably don’t notice or say anything about it. WSF says they hear the complaint less than a dozen times a year; in my time at the Sun I’d guess it comes up once every three or four months in a letter or call from a reader. So it’s not all that often, even on the Bremerton route. What seems to be driving the complaint is the perception among Bremerton riders (and I am one myself) that they get shortchanged. So, I’d reason, Bremerton riders are far more likely to check the destination on the ticket. Also, the higher percentage of cars going through requesting Bainbridge tickets make it statistically more likely that the ticket agent is going to pass a Bainbridge ticket to a Bremerton passenger than vice-versa. I’m not saying that’s right, just what the odds would be.
2.) Maybe, but the incorrect tickets are given to drivers, not walk ons. So that wouldn’t be a factor. Also, I’m pretty sure walk-on passengers are hand-counted by a WSF employee at the end of the gangway. I don’t know which count is used in compiling ridership numbers, but there would, at least it appears, to be two sources of data.

I still like the idea pitched in the comments section from the original story, which suggests WSF should come up with a secondary counting mechanism like an air hose. Seems really reasonable. Also, here’s my favorite common sense solution, again from a letter.

One other ferry note for today: In Friedrich’s story on the Bremerton tunnel completion, he reports that a decision on allowing (or, not allowing, rather) right-hand turns onto Washington Avenue from the terminal. The state DOT, after first saying it was an idea, then to a temporary plan, is now saying it’s a done deal. We editorialized about this a few weeks ago, saying DOT was being heavy handed in mandating the traffic pattern. To now do away with the “trial period” that was earlier announced, well, I’d say our stance is justified.

— David Nelson