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Foot ferry extension sought

The city councils of Bremerton and Port Orchard have drafted a letter to Kitsap Transit encouraging the agency to consider extending weekend hours of the foot ferry.

Following passage of Initiative 695, Kitsap Transit trimmed service in several arenas, including evening and weekend runs of the foot ferry connecting Port Orchard and Bremerton.

“This is a small step to try to reinstate some of it,” Councilman Fred Chang said.

Chang mentioned that consumers may use the foot ferry to visit the downtown areas of Port Orchard and Bremerton, and find themselves stranded if they’re not aware of the limited weekend hours.

He said many people come over for the farmers market, or other amenities in downtown Port Orchard, then stay for dinner.

The letter said the ferry becomes more important as the “economic engines gain strength.

“In this light, and to promote the economic ties between Bremerton and Port Orchard, the city councils have come together and agreed that additional service is essential to continued momentum,” the letter states.

Staff at the Port Orchard City Hall drafted the letter, and Mayor Kim Abel is collecting signatures before mailing it.

The letter will be signed by Abel, Councilman Rick Wyatt, Mayor Cary Bozeman of Bremerton and Councilman Will Maupin of Bremerton.

Port Orchard Councilman John Clauson, who also serves as Kitsap Transit’s service development director, said Kitsap Transit is already examining the possibility of extending services throughout the organization, but said a tight budget restrains the process.

Clauson’s responsibility includes all of the service routes and schedules.

“Kitsap Transit is identifying potential sources of revenue that might allow something like that to happen,” Clauson said. “We currently have nothing in the budget for expansion, nor is there anything for service expansion in the next couple years. It would require us to go through the system and see if there isn’t areas where we could find some savings. That is something that we certainly better take a look at.”

Clauson said extending services is not a simple adjustment to schedules. Beyond staffing and fueling the ferry, Kitsap Transit is required to offer door to door services for riders with disabilities, so service extension would include extending those services, as well.

Port Orchard’s City Council discussed drafting a letter at the April 23 meeting. At that time, Clauson decided to abstain from any vote or conversation, due to his close involvement with Kitsap Transit and the matter at hand.

“Legally, I could have participated in the discussion, since I don’t gain anything financially,” Clauson said. “I didn’t want to influence the discussion by throwing my two cents in. I wanted the city to express their opinion without that kind of influence.”

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