Keep buses out of ferry terminal scramble?


The in basket: John Holbrook wrote last January about the congestion around the Bremerton ferry terminal on weekday afternoons and suggested that transit buses let automobile traffic clear before adding themselves to it.

“Around 5:30 p.m.,  the possibly fullest boat of the day arrives in Bremerton,” John said.

“Two bumper-to-bumper lines of cars pour onto Washington Avenue intent on getting home. Often traffic backs up from  the traffic light at Burwell clear onto the boat itself!  

“Into this mess come charging six-plus Kitsap Transit

buses from the terminal equally intent on getting to where they are going.

“Throw in hordes of pedestrians crossing without even looking at Second Street or jaywalking in front of the hotel(and it’s) a recipe for a dangerous situation at

best.  Add in darkness and rain and it really gets bad!

“In the last few weeks my car has been nearly hit several times,” John said..

“All but a couple of the buses move to the left as soon as they come out of

the terminal ramp!  These drivers do not hesitate to use the bulk of their

vehicles to force their way into the lane they want!”

“Seems to me if (the buses’) departure was delayed

just 10 minutes most of the traffic would have time to get out of their way.”

The out basket: I didn’t expect Kitsap Transit to be very receptive to the idea, as among its missions is to make using the bus more attractive than driving one’s car, to encourage ridership and reduce traffic on the roadways. 

Transit CEO Dick Hayes didn’t surprise me when he replied, “Without disputing the letter writer’s assertions about the congestion problems at the Bremerton Transportation Center as boats unload in Bremerton in the afternoon, Kitsap Transit very much disagrees with his stated priorities for access and merging.

“Our position is that because the buses carry a number of people, buses deserve equal if not better access to the roadway, however congested it may be. 

Dick continued, “It will remain our position that the buses not only have every right to be there, but also, under state law, that buses have a right to merge that supersedes the merging of individual autos.”

Those triangular Yield signs you see on the backs of buses are backed up by state law that would make a merging accident the car driver’s fault if he or she didn’t yield to a bus and they collided. 

“With the completion of the tunnel next year,” Dick continued, “a significant portion of car traffic exiting the ferry will be re-routed (away from Washington Avenue) and merging issues will become much more manageable.  The issues for pedestrians will, of course, remain basically the same, but buses and pedestrians are generally a safe mix, so we are hopeful that the overall situation will improve substantially, and that our long-term goal for a downtown bus and pedestrian priority zone will be realized. 

“I appreciate that this will not help the letter writer merge more quickly, but clearly, philosophically, he and the transit system are miles apart,” Dick concluded.


5 thoughts on “Keep buses out of ferry terminal scramble?

  1. instead of sitting in your car, yelling at the bus, try riding the bus and yelling at the single occupancy drivers, clogging the roads!

  2. Cheers to Kitsap transit!!! I feel equally frustrated when our bus full of commuters has to wait for pedestrians and ferry traffic to get out of the bus parking area to go home. Let’s make the car traffic wish they were on a bus!!!

  3. So if a bus driver rams a car, it’s the car’s fault? I’ve seen bus drivers who are very agressive and now I see why – their boss says they have the right-of-way, no matter what.

  4. No…the public transit says they have right of way and SHOULD have right of way over passenger cars….unless prevision is made for the physically challenged to be dropped off and picked up…in my opinion. Sharon O’Hara

    Why would a car driver think they should be priority over a bus load of people in a limited space?

  5. Contrary to what Mr. Hayes implies in his response to you, that transit buses have an absolute right to merge under state law (RCW 46.61.220), the law states that a driver of a bus must exercise due caution when merging so as not to cause an accident. A copy of the RCW is below:

    RCW 46.61.220
    Transit vehicles.

    (1) The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a transit vehicle traveling in the same direction that has signalled and is reentering the traffic flow.

    (2) Nothing in this section shall operate to relieve the driver of a transit vehicle from the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons using the roadway.

    [1993 c 401 § 1.]

    Charlie Brown

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