Monthly Archives: June 2016

New takeaways from cross-Sound ferry materials

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With a vote coming up in four months, Kitsap Transit is distilling its cross-Sound ferry proposal into digestible morsels.

It added a colorful, easy-to-understand fact sheet, PowerPoint presentation and posters to its project page. The full plan is there, too, for the ambitious.

I’ve written so much about the proposal, I’ll spare you a repeat. But I discovered some interesting nuggets among the new material.

Did you know, for example, that more Kitsap residents work in Seattle than in Bremerton? In 2014, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics, 14,088 (16.6 percent) were employed in the Emerald City and 10,576 (12.5 percent) in the Navy town. Ten years ago it was flipped, with 16.6 percent working in Bremerton and 13.9 percent in Seattle.

The numbers don’t include armed service members, but do account for Puget Sound Naval Shipyard workers. The facility’s ranks spiked from 10,898 in 2014 to 13,266 today, which could push Bremerton back past Seattle in total workers. The point remains that tons of people — 51 percent — travel outside of the county for work. And the percentage is likely to grow. According to the Puget Sound Regional Council, Kitsap will gain more than 50,000 residents by 2025, but only 20,000 jobs.

Transit, of course, wants people to consider whether they might need another commute option.

Low-income people get to ride Kitsap Transit’s buses for half price, and the same would apply to cross-Sound ferries. State ferries don’t offer that discount. For those who qualify, it would cost $6 per round trip for full fare or $5.25 with a monthly pass.

Transit would match WSF’s half-price discount for youth, seniors and the disabled on full fares, but would also cut its monthly passes in half, which the state doesn’t. So while majority of riders would pay more for the quicker POF ride than the car ferry, some fast-ferry customers would actually save money.

Here’s another fun fact. Kitsap Transit’s Bremerton-Port Orchard ferry service ranked 14th in the nation with 450,700 passenger trips in 2013, the latest year for which data is available. Agency officials want to make that point to show they’re not a bunch of rookies.They estimate the cross-Sound service would average about 800,000 a year more.

Most people by now should know that the service would require a three-tenths of 1 percent increase in local sales taxes — an extra 3 cents on a $10 purchase. I’m not trying to persuade you one way or the other, but want to put it in perspective. The average adult would pay about $60 a year more in sales taxes. It isn’t collected on groceries, housing, heating, electricity, prescription drugs or health care.

The sales tax could only be spent on ferry service. If voters were to approve the proposal, the existing foot ferries would be shifted to the new source of revenue. That would free up about $1.5 million for bus service, which would buy more than 23,000 hours of service each year, according to Kitsap Transit. It hasn’t been determined how it would be used.

Fauntleroy ferry loading goes back to drawing board

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Washington State experimented with new ticketing procedures the past couple weeks at Fauntleroy to speed up loading, but they didn’t work. Today the process reverted back to the old ways of doing things.

There are problems there that, under the circumstances, might never be fixed. The dock is too small, especially considering boats sail to two destinations from it. Neighbors don’t want it there in the first place and especially don’t want it to expand. Seattle won’t allow that to happen.

It wasn’t too bad when they were running smaller boats there, mostly 87-car Evergreen State and Tillikum. Now the lineup features the 120-car Issaquah and Cathlamet. They can’t get them loaded and unloaded fast enough to stay on schedule.

Ferries folks want to be on schedule. They’re held accountable for that. Riders would rather have late boats than to drop sailings to give the boats a chance to be on time.

Over the past three weeks, we have learned from passenger feedback and direct observation that the new procedures were not working,” Washington State Ferries said Thursday in a bulletin.

Passengers with pre-purchased tickets will be waved through the tollbooth, and their tickets will be scanned on the dock. Passengers who don’t have tickets must stop to buy them at the tollbooth.

“We recognize that this solution does not address the underlying difficulties at the Fauntleroy terminal, including limited vehicle capacity, challenges with consistent fare recovery and an outdated schedule designed for smaller vessels and lower traffic volume,” the bulletin said. “These factors create conflict between maintaining the schedule and filling the boats.”

WSF says it’ll continue to explore options to improve service within the constraints of the system.