‘SK Rides’ bus service becoming more useful

Kitsap Transit continues to refine its SK Rides service to address riders’ requests.

The service, which enables residents in the Old Clifton Road area to reserve trips with their phones or tablets, will begin offering rides to the Port Orchard passenger ferry on Monday.

Residents suggested trips to the 6:30 a.m. boat to get them to work in Bremerton. The agency responded by bumping back SK Ride’s start time from 6:30 a.m. to 5:45 a.m. and offering direct rides to the dock until 8 a.m., said spokesman Sanjay Bhatt.

Three months ago, the agency added direct trips to the Sedgwick 76 gas station, where riders can meet the Bremerton-Kitsap Airporter, followed a month later with a stop at the Sedgwick Fred Meyer store, where they can transfer to the No. 8 Bethel route, Bhatt said.

The bus already connected to the No. 4 Tremont route at Harrison Medical Center or Old Clifton Road, and to the No. 5 Sidney route at Sedgwick Albertsons or Cedar Heights Junior High. It also serves Bremerton National Airport and Olympic View Industrial Center.
Trips must begin and end in the service area, which centers around McCormick Woods, Sunnyslope, The Ridge and McCormick Meadows.

Ridership has grown from 20 in November, when it was introduced, to 147 as destinations expanded and people became aware of it. When the bus isn’t booked, it pulls double duty running Access service.

It’s Kitsap Transit’s first route to offer Uber-like digital reservations. Riders download the TapRide application, select “Kitsap” and register their phone number. Then they’re able to click on a map where they want to be picked up and dropped of. The driver, who’s following along on a monitor in the bus, responds with an estimated pickup time. The cost is $2 full fare and $1 for seniors, youths and disabled people.

It’s easy to use, said Roger Gay, who attends transit board meetings and often asks for updates on SK Ride. He was picked up at the airport and delivered to the Sedgwick Albertson, where he hopped a routed bus to the foot ferry. He believes it should be much more popular.

“It works. It’s a nice system,” he said. “It’s just that not that many people are aware that it is available and that easy.

“To have bus service 24/7, seven days a week, throughout the county would be impossible. It’s too expensive. But having something like this for rural areas is going to be one of the best ways to go, and something the county really needs.”

Transit officials devised similar hybrid services on Bainbridge Island and in Pouslbo.