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.

4 thoughts on “New takeaways from cross-Sound ferry materials

  1. Awww….this is a happy little piece of puff on an extremely dangerous financial proposal for county taxpayers. Buzz has been that the Paid Under the Table Taskforce has been working the backrooms of influence in this city harder than an Amsterdam brothal. I see some truth to that.

  2. Interesting that KT is still trying to put a happy face on this. Yes, they have done a good job operating the puddle jumpers; but this proposal is running a cross sound using a boat that was designed as a test base using federal funding. Have the feds released it for unlimited use in all weather conditions?
    I have serious doubts about my tax monies being hijacked for an iffy proposition. If (when) it fails will the taxes be cancelled?

  3. Kitsap Transit has shown themselves to be really good at giving away other peoples money. Now if we could only get them to provide a reliable and robust bus service.

    The only reason the foot ferry has such high numbers as most of us know is that Kitsap Transit refuses to provide any type of routed bus service from Bremerton to Port Orchard and back. This makes the foot ferry a red herring but if the numbers are to be used why not tell everyone how much it actually cost the taxpayer per person verses what is actually collected?

    Facts, even the fun ones are a good thing but having all or a balance of the facts for both sides rather than just the PR push is the key to presenting information. I hope that the Kitsap Sun will do that at some point before the election.

    1. The traffic conditions between Bremerton and Port Orchard make the foot ferry a logical choice. There are many of us who commute into Seattle and want the benefit of fast service. These are the people who will be most impacted by any tax increases.

      I am really tired of the straw man argument “…but, but..the poor!” A vibrant economy that attracts middle class homeowners benefits the working poor. Retail, construction benefit. This means more jobs and more hours for people in these jobs. Schools benefit as the property tax rolls increase, and levies are more likely to pass.

      Again, these costs are not borne to any great extent by lower income residents. And the benefits that accrue to them will more than offset marginal cost increases. The folks who benefit will bear the most costs.

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