I really didn’t get into the story about the ferry customer
survey enough on Thursday. Lots of commenters couldn’t believe that
most of the people riding ferries aren’t commuters. I don’t know
about that, either. It was a surprise to the Transportation
Commission, too, which seemed to welcome the news.
One finding showed 13 percent of riders take 45 or more one-way
trips per month and 22 percent take 25 to 44 trips. That’s 35
percent that ride more than 24 times per month. So not only are the
commuters not the majority, they also get discounted prices.
Only 37 percent of trip purposes systemwide were for commute to
work or school. Bainbridge was 41 percent, Bremerton 49 percent,
Kingston 30 percent and Southworth 48 percent.
Another interesting item was that 44 percent of Bainbridge riders
were walk-ons and 62 percent at Bremerton, both of which dump into
downtown Seattle. The other routes were way lower.
The state wants to shift riders out of peak times so it can stretch
it’s boats and terminals, but only 44 percent of people travel
during peak times and only 4 percent say they have the flexibility
to move to non-peak.
Somewhat surprisingly, 65 percent of riders say they are at least
somewhat satisfied with ferry service. Only 23 percent are somewhat
dissatisfied or extremely dissatisfied.
I covered a public hearing on increasing tolls on the Tacoma
Narrows Bridge Tuesday night. They would go up from $1.75 to $2.75
for electronic tolling and from $3 to $4 for cash. I found one of
the handouts pretty interesting. They applied an inflation index to
past tolls on other bridges to see what they would be today. Here
are some of the results:
Agate Pass (1950-51): It was 40 cents, which would be $3.99
Hood Canal Bridge (1961-79): It was $2.60 and would be $16.71
Hood Canal Bridge after it blew down and was rebuilt (1982-85): It
was $4 and would be $9.95 now
Warren Avenue bridge in Bremerton (1958-72): It was 20 cents and
would be $1.33 now
First Tacoma Narrows Bridge (1940) It was $1.10 and would be $15.10
Second Tacoma Narrows Bridge (1950-65): It was $1 and would be
I can’t vouch for any of this math, but it makes good conversation.
I’m old enough to remember paying (not me, my folks) to go across
the Warren Avenue and the second Narrows Bridge. I can’t recall how
much they cost, but I remember a big stainless steel cone coming
out from the booths at Warren Avenue and you’d pitch your coins in
there and the light would turn green. 20 cents back in those days
would buy you four really big candy bars.
I sat through a meeting Wednesday at the Transportation
Commission in Olympia where a consultant updated them on a ferry
financing study they’re doing. They’re not very far along, so I
didn’t write anything about it.
I think it’s going to be a lot harder to get the money for capital
costs — boats and terminals — than filling the gap in operations.
Fares already pay for more than 70 percent of operations. Rising
fuel prices, however, just mean that much more money they need to
collect. They’re going to be looking at stuff like whether you’d
pay extra for a reservation to make sure you can get on a certain
boat, or if you’d pay extra to get in a preferred loading lane to
just pull up and bypass everybody who didn’t want to pay extra.
Would you drive a Smart car if it cost less than, say, a Chevy
Suburban because it takes up less space? I know it would cause
quite a stir, but how would you feel if you didn’t get a
frequent-user discount anymore?
What about ferry communities paying more license tab taxes or sales
tax when you buy a vehicle or transit district tax? From all the
comments I read, it seems pretty clear that those who don’t ride
the ferries don’t want to pay for those who do.
My Cops and Courts pal Josh Farley and I are contemplating a
project about the county’s most dangerous intersections. It’ll take
some doin’ because we’ll need to get figures from the state, county
and cities. But it seems worthwhile. Maybe we can help get them
fixed. You can be involved in the project more later, but for now
I’m just curious if you have any top-of-the-head places.
I’m a southern guy and don’t get to the north part of the county
that much, but several places on Bond Road come to mind. The
Burley-Olalla intersection with Highway 16 seems to be a lot
better, but there was a crash there just this morning. It seems
like coming over the hill on Sedgwick Road where Long Lake Road
crosses gets its share of wrecks. And Highway 3 south of Gorst
seems to have a lot of crashes. Maybe you could help us out with
your bad spots and what makes them dangerous.
People like to believe that public opinion can’t change a
bureaucracy’s mind, but that’s not always true, as the Kitsap
Transit board showed Tuesday. Eleven people testified at the board
meeting’s public hearing, most of them pleading not to cut Access
service back from five days to three and in turn isolate immobile
people off from their jobs and social lives and prevent them from
integrating with the community. A bunch more people came and
cheered after each person spoke. And transit staff said this was
the only complaint that kept coming up at a series of public
The board chose not to cut the service and whether you like the
decision or not, it shows that they are listening.
Steve Bauer, a board member and county commissioner, said increased
ridership caused by high gas prices could cover the cost. I haven’t
done the math, but if that’s the case, this looks like a good deal
Somebody commented on my story that Kitsap Transit has to provide
Access service anyway. That’s not totally true. I think they only
have to provide it within 3/4 of a mile of routed service, not way
out to the boonies.
One item that didn’t get reported from Tuesday’s Kitsap Transit
board monthly board meeting was a resolution that was passed to
provide free passenger-only ferry service this summer and for
special events in Bremerton and Port Orchard. It will run through
Oct. 12. Because most riders already have passes, this would only
affect “new” passengers and cost about $8,500 in lost fares for the
whole summer. There would be no extra operating expenses.
They’ve been doing this for several years to make it easier for
people to get between the two cities without driving their cars and
causing parking problems for SK’s Concerts in the Park and farmers
market and Bremerton’s Concerts on the Pier and Blackberry
Here’s a story that ran Sunday on Radio Netherlands.
The TESO ferry service to the Dutch island of Texel has called
on islanders to join a mass protest on Tuesday. The call follows
government plans to liberalise ferry services to the Wadden islands
off the north coast.
TESO managing director Cees de Waal says passengers will not be
better off if commercial services are introduced to the islands. He
warned there would be fewer crossings in bad weather, longer
waiting times and higher prices.
Under the motto “Swim to the other side?”, he called on
islanders to come in bathing costumes to a surf beach on Texel. The
demonstration has been organised on the eve of a debate in the
Lower House on the future of the ferry services.
Last month the island’s council rejected plans to connect Texel
to the mainland by a tunnel. TESO is an island-owned company and
has been running since 1907.
I’ll be traveling to a forum on passenger-only ferries Thursday
in Seattle aboard a brand-new 70-passenger boat that goes 55 mph.
It was built at All American Marine in Bellingham for the Tennessee
Aquarium. The company will be building a similar but bigger boat
for Kitsap Transit pretty soon, and could eventually an 80- to
100-seat one for a Kingston-Seattle route.
The forum sounds like it’ll have some new wrinkles, like pairing
passenger-only ferries with Puget Sound cleanup, and trying to come
up with a common funding source for a whole network of Puget Sound
passenger ferries. Twelve different guys will be speaking,
including Bremerton mayor Cary Bozeman and Mike Bookey of the Port
After that they’ll be taking a jaunt on the boat, complete with
wine and cheese, but I have to pass it up to grab the big Bremerton
boat and come back and write. Look for the story.
I’m thinking of writing a story based on being an old-timer.
Seems like when I was growing up in SK, there were nasty, bloody
wrecks all the time, way more than now. Highway 16, if I remember
right, was one lane in each direction with no median. People trying
to pass when they couldn’t see far enough ahead or didn’t have
enough room led to some nasty crashes. And there were lots of cross
streets. Nelson’s Corner, which used to intersect Highway 16
between Sedgwick and Mullenix roads, was one of the worse.
Now, with medians and overpasses and those chain things that are
supposed to keep you from going into incoming traffic, it seems you
have to be really stupid or really drunk to crack up your car on
the highway compared with the old days. It’d be neat to compare the
accident and death rates from the different eras if I could get
How do you remember those days, say 1960s and 1970s? What would you
be interested in reading about?