Tag Archives: Transit

Parking puzzle at new Silverdale transfer station

The in basket:    Greg Mulver says he went to pick up his legally blind uncle as the man  arrived on a Kitsap Transit bus from Kingston at the recently relocated Silverdale transfer station.

As he sat in his car waiting, he said, a transit employee, possibly the driver of a different bus, approached him  and said he wasn’t allowed to be parked where he was. He didn’t see any better spot, he said, and wondered what people in cars waiting for a bus to arrive are expected to do.

The out basket: John Clauson, who is stepping up to Transit’s top sport, says, “The transfer

center at Greaves Way was not designed to accommodate a waiting area for

private vehicles to park and wait for bus passengers. Unfortunately, as

we were pressed for time in finding an alternative to our location at

the Kitsap Mall,  the site was not developed with vehicle parking in mind.

“There have been times when I have watched the transfer operation at this

location,” he said.  “In doing so, I’ve parked on the west side of the road, where

there are two paved ‘fingers.’  This is out of the way of the buses, and

would seem to be the only alternative.”




Buses in HOV lanes without any passengers

The in basket: Dr. Larry Iversen of Bremerton e-mailed to say “A couple of times I have noticed buses with ‘out of service’ signs using the I-5 HOV lanes, even though there is just the driver on board.

“Last Wednesday, I noticed three buses in a convoy using the I-5 HOV lane with ‘garage’ indicated on their signs, each with only a driver on board. I believe these were always Metro buses.

“What are the Department of Transportation, WSP, and Metro policies concerning buses with no passengers using HOV lanes on our highways?”


The out basket: Trooper Krista Hedstrom of the Bremerton State Patrol office says that use of the HOV lanes by such buses is legal and specifically provided for in the HOV law. Among those allowed to use HOV lanes, says the law, are public transportation vehicles, and (many) private transportation provider vehicles if the vehicle has the capacity to carry eight or more passengers, regardless of the number of passengers in the vehicle, and if such use does not interfere with the efficiency, reliability, and safety of public transportation operations.”

Linda Thielke, in public affairs at Metro, says their drivers use the HOV lanes on “dead-head’ runs back to the bus barn, to stay on schedule. Their buses often are on the road 20 out of every 24 hours, she said, and even if the driver has completed his or her shift, he or she must get the bus back for another driver to take over.

John Clauson, longtime Kitsap Transit official who has just been named to head the organization, said his agency doesn’t have a policy addressing this. “We leave it to the driver’s discretion, knowing that it islegal.”

Left turns on red and transit buses on Burwell

The in basket: Ric Logg sent an e-mail back in May asking if I’d heard any rumors of a left-turn arrow being added to the light at Pacific and Burwell (in Bremerton).

“The buses get jammed up in the morning commute to the ferry terminal,” he said. “Kinda stinks having to sit through two lights waiting for a break so the bus can make a left-hand turn and get to the ferry terminal.”

The out basket: I wouldn’t expect a change in the signal at that intersection, for lack of money, but there is hope of a change as regards the buses.

That left turn carries buses and all other traffic onto a one-way street leading downhill to the terminal. As I’ve written often before, a little known state law allows a left turn against a red light where no sign prohibits it, but only onto a one-way street and only after coming to a complete stop and yielding to conflicting traffic.

Kitsap Transit executive John Clauson turns out to be among those who had never heard of the law. (Some police officers also hadn’t and have ticketed Road Warrior readers for making such a turn, for whom I’ve interceded twice to get the ticket dismissed).

John said he’ll look into the law and it’s applicability to transit vehicles, so it’s possible Kitsap Transit drivers will be made aware of it and be allowed to make the turn against red in the future.

I’m not sure whether traffic flow will provide many chances for those turns during morning rush hours. It also sounds like Ric’s complaint addresses times when the Burwell light is green, not red, and it’s oncoming traffic that keeps the buses from proceeding.

It’s not much of a problem just now anyway, Ric tells me, as the closure of the Manette Bridge has reduced traffic on Burwell at Pacific.

Transit drivers and the hands-free law

The in basket: A reader who wants to be known only as Lonnie for purposes of this column says he saw a Kitsap Transit bus driver flip open his cell phone and begin talking as he drove the bus at 11th and Perry in East Bremerton one recent morning.

He wonders if bus drivers are among those exempted from the hands-free device law, along with police, emergency personnel, tow truck drivers and anyone reporting a crime or an emergency. He’d find that curious, he said, “especially with such a huge vehicle.”

The out basket: Actually Kitsap Transit bus drivers are more limited in their use of cell phones than any of us, as a company policy forbids all use of a cell phone while the bus is in motion, says John Clauson, Transit’s service development manager.

That policy, which could stand a little editing to settle on the correct pronouns,  reads, “”Operator’s personal cellular phones are not to be used while aboard a coach to communicate with Dispatch or any other parties. Personal cell phone use is only allowed at terminals or transfer centers when your coach is parked, while they are off the bus and only if its use doesn’t interfere with their job duties. If it is necessary to call Dispatch while you are in service either because you are in a “dead radio zone” or because your radio is not working, the operator must stop their coach and secure it before using their cellular phone.

The driver of the bus Lonnie saw will be pointedly reminded of that policy, John said.

By coincidence, the hands-free law was amended this year to address a transit issue, but not to add transit drivers to the list of those exempted from the cell-phone prohibition.

Instead, it allows a bus driver to hold a receiver to his or her ear if it’s parts of a device permanently affixed to the vehicle. John says that describes the radio units in many of Kitsap Transit’s buses, which have telephone-like handsets wired to the radio. Because the radio system itself is wireless, even though the handset isn’t, transit officials statewide worried when the hands-free law made it a primary offense that it would prevent drivers from using those radios. So they got the law changed.

Veterans Day bus service decried

The in basket: Ron Mumford of Hansville  said in an e-mail, “Kitsap Transit is implementing a Saturday service schedule for Wednesday, Nov. 11, in observation of Veteran’s Day. 

“Being a veteran myself, I appreciate the acknowledgment of my service to our country, but most companies do not observe Veteran’s Day as a non-working holiday. Kitsap Transit’s decision to use a Saturday service schedule leaves most commuters with no public transportation alternative during the commute hours on a regular work day. 

“I suggested that if the Bremerton shipyard is closed then perhaps curtailing service to that area might suffice.

The out basket: Ron also sent his complaint to the transit office, and three others did as well. All got the following response from Service Development Director John Clauson.

“The decision to reduce service on Veteran’s Day to the hours that are normally run on Saturday is due to the economy and the savings Kitsap Transit would experience, not only in direct service hours but in the underlying costs as well(maintenance, supervisors, etc.).

“In looking at ridership numbers for Veteran’s Day in particular, Kitsap Transit carried 8,834 people in 2008 on that day.  Ridership for a normal weekday in November was around 13,491.  As you can see, the ridership is 35 percent lower than a regular weekday.

 “We then separated the morning commuter ridership numbers out, and they came to 1,491. Assuming that 100 percent of these riders returned in the evening, the commuter representation still amounts to only a little more than 33 percent of the day’s ridership.

“When Kitsap Transit staff approached the public with budget constraints and service reductions last winter, there were six holidays on the list for elimination –  Martin Luther King Day, President’s Day, Memorial Day, July 4, Labor Day, and Veteran’s Day.  

“Within that list there were ‘major’ and ‘minor’ holidays and the public encouraged us to run at least some level of service on the ‘major’ holidays.”   

Discussions at community meetings and transit board meetings in November and December led to board approval of retaining Saturday-level of service on Martin Luther King Day, President’s Day, and Veteran’s Day, he said.

“I appreciate the fact that these are holidays that are not observed by everyone, and that there will be some needing to get to and from work,” John wrote. “I also recognize that, though lack of transit service would be an inconvenience, there typically would be parking available at ferry terminals, etc.  I apologize for this inconvenience.  

“Hopefully, as the economy begins to improve, we will be able to financially go back to a higher level of service on these days.  As it stands now, however, this is the level we are able to provide.”




Transit center gets a clock tower

The in basket: Kitsap Transit’s expanded base on Charleston Avenue in Bremerton is boasting a sharp-looking tower clock. 

I asked where it came from.

The out basket: Wendy Clark-Getzin, Transit’s capital development director, replied, “The clock tower, installed Sept. 24, was originally built for the Bremerton First Street Dock. Rice Fergus Architects designed the clock and a companion canopy system,” which kept foot ferry patrons out of the weather.  

“When the wooden dock was demolished and replaced with the current steel passenger-only-ferry dock, the clock was relocated to the intersection of First and Washington and remained in the Bremerton Transportation Center care.  

“When the tunnel project began, the clock needed to be stored for over a year by Tri-State Construction.  Plans to return it to where it was changed and the clock was relocated to Hanson Signs for a few months while Fischer General Construction prepared the way for (the recent) installation.” Fischer General is the contractor on the Charleston base improvements.

Paper transit transfers gone by Halloween

The in basket: Betty Mueller, a friend of The Judybaker, my wife, told her Kitsap Transit is doing away with transfers that allow a rider to continue a trip for which she has paid without paying to get on the next leg. She figured she’d have to pay at least three times to get from her Manchester area home to work in Silverdale.

The out basket: By the time I asked Transit officials about this, Betty had discovered the answer on her own – the ORCA Card that allows passage on numerous forms of Puget Sound mass transit is taking the place of transfers. Betty has obtained one. 

John Clauson of Kitsap Transit says, “We spend about $8,000-$9,000 a year on paper transfers. Paper transfers will be replaced with a 2-hour transfer when riders pay from ‘E-purse’ loaded on their ORCA card.  

“Paper transfers are currently (good) for the next

connecting bus/foot ferry. An ORCA transfer is good for two hours in

any direction, so if a rider can catch a bus to the grocery store, do

their shopping and return on the bus within two hours, they don’t have

to pay any additional fare.  In addition, the ORCA transfer also extends

to the other participating agencies, excluding Washington State Ferries.

“October 31 will be the last day that paper transfers will be used

on our system,” he said, “and the only way you will be

able to receive a free transfer is if you use an ORCA card.”

What’s Transit building in West Bremerton?


The in basket: Every time I drive by Kitsap Transit’s operations base on Charleston Avenue in Bremerton’s west end, I wonder what they are building there, and whether construction in a time of service cutbacks is a PR headache for them.

The out basket: Yes, it is, says Transit CEO Dick Hayes, but it’s the old story of funding coming from sources that can’t be shifted to operations. “This is capital grant money that can’t be used for anything else,” he said.

Expanding operations bases is hard to get done, due to permit requirements, he said. This one was further complicated by the need to acquire the old Callow Avenue that runs between the operations base and the shipyard. They got the permits, acquired the street in a trade with the city for part of the Bremerton Transportation Center site, and had an approaching deadline to use the grant money. So they went ahead. 

The work will allow the Access bus service for the elderly and infirm to relocate to the operations base from its current site near the end of steep Werner Road.

It’s not a good place to operate out of when it snows, he said, and it puts extra miles on the the Access buses when they get the same preventative maintenance as the routed buses.

The $4.5 million project is adding a wash rack for the buses, more room for that preventive maintenance, and will double available parking, he said.

“Some day we’ll have more money to run more services,” he said, and the base expansion will pay off then, he said. 

Transit owns the Werner Road site and will sell it when Access moves, in about seven months, he said.

Though Callow Avenue will be closed to the public, Transit had to agreed to let the Navy use the property for emergency evacuation of its multi-story parking garage on the other side of the street, if that is ever necessary, Dick said.