The most startling finding to
come out of a recent survey on Kitsap Transit’s plans for
cross-Sound passenger ferry service is that most Kitsap people know
nothing about it. A close second is that I’ve been wasting my time
the past 10 years.
There’s no topic I’ve written more about than passenger-only ferries. Hundreds of stories. But in a May public opinion poll of a statistically valid 400 people, 56 percent said they hadn’t heard of it. If anything, I figured people were sick of reading about it.
Maybe it’s because the business plan for fast ferries running from Bremerton, Kingston and Southworth to Seattle is relatively new. It was published in December 2014. People have been busy.
Leading up to the report, however, was an 8 1/2-year, $12.7 million research project that culminated in building and testing a high-tech catamaran that can transit Rich Passage without tearing up beaches. Sixty-one percent of survey respondents weren’t aware of the research.
Executive Director John Clauson seemed astonished.
“One of the biggest takeaways for me is we’ve got to get the word out better,” he said during a subcommittee meeting Tuesday when the results were presented. “We’ve got too many people in Kitsap County who are uninformed.”
Poll results were surprisingly positive in many regards. Though 56 percent said they didn’t know about the plan, 72 percent were interested in pursuing the service. Three out of four thought it would be good for the economy.
Under the plan, 30-minute sailings would cost about $1.50 more each way than existing walk-on options. Service would focus on commuters. A local tax increase would be needed and would probably come from local sales tax.
Respondents said the most important aspect of service is keeping on schedule, with 89 percent saying it was important or very important. Lumped behind that were a schedule that meets commuters’ needs (79%), fast crossing (78%), schedule that makes personal needs (77%) and service guided by a strong business and financial plan (77%).
Regarding costs, 69 percent said it was important or very important that more than one-third of operating costs be paid by passengers, 54 percent that taxpayers help with a sales tax of 2 cents per $10 dollar purchase, and 51 percent that fares be $1.50 more each way than current walk-on fares.
The largest drawbacks were that it would cost taxpayers too much (31% agree or strongly agree), duplicate existing services (26%), cost riders too much (22%) and not serve enough people (22%).
Seventy-eight percent said it would make it easier to get to
work or school and 70 percent that it would improve their quality