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.