Port gives foot-ferry plan cold reception

The Port of Bremerton commissioners sent a clear message at their last meeting that they don’t want to partner with Bremerton and Port Orchard run the foot ferry between the two cities on Sundays this summer.

“(The city) could sell that bell they’ve got down there and raise the $18,000,” said Commissioner Larry Stokes with a chuckle.

Kitsap Transit runs the foot ferry Monday through Saturday, and the commissioners say that agency, if anyone, should take responsibility for running it on Sundays, as well.

Port Orchard suggested a partnership between itself, Bremerton and the Port of Bremerton to pay for it.

“Kitsap Transit has not done right by Port Orchard,” said Commissioner Bill Mahan, “but it’s not the Port of Bremerton’s responsibility to pay for the ferry.”

“I want to see (ferry) service between the two cities,” said Stokes, whose district includes South Kitsap, “but it’s not the port’s job to pay for that.

“If someone can’t do their job,” he said, “I don’t want to do it.” he said.

Stokes has said he’s “deeply concerned” that Kitsap Transit could start abdicating more and more of its responsibility for the foot ferry as the partnership takes it over.

“I would only support it if we had a sound agreement with Kitsap Transit that this wasn’t going to escalate,” he said. “If we start running the ferry from Bremerton to Port Orchard during the summer, Kitsap Transit is going to want it year round, then Sunday, then Saturday.”

Kitsap Transit has said it would charge $145.25 per hour, and Port Orchard’s city council considered running it for 11, eight or five hours per Sunday.

At that rate, it would cost each entity between $2,925 and $6,435, before accounting for revenue generated by ticket sales.

It would cost more for Kitsap Transit to run the service, because it is legally obligated to provide access for elderly and disabled riders for a three-quarter mile radius of each ferry terminal, at any point that it’s operational, said Cathie Knox-Browning, a spokeswoman for the agency.

Regardless of whether or not a partnership forms to pay for all Sundays, the port and city of Bremerton partnered with Port Orchard to ran the foot ferry on Memorial Day weekend, and will do so for several other festivals this summer.

“That’s a done deal,” said Patty Kirpatrick, Port Orchard’s city clerk. “The festival event service was agreed upon a year ago.”



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