Horluck opts to exercise its early out

Horluck Transportation Co. on Thursday opted out of its agreement with Kitsap Transit to provide foot ferry service across Sinclair Inlet.

Following provisions in the one-year contract between the two parties, Horluck owner Hilton Smith notified Kitsap Transit executive director Dick Hayes that Horluck’s last ferry will run Friday, Dec. 19.

“Should Kitsap Transit wish to continue to provide service from Saturday Dec. 20, 2003 through and including Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2003, Horluck is willing to do so for a payment of $2,090 per day for weekday service and $1,100 for Saturday and Sunday service. Notice...must be received by Horluck on or before Sept. 18, 2003,” Smith wrote.

But it doesn’t appear that will happen.

“We’ve contacted all four of the bidders (to pick up the service) to see if they could start early, and they all said they could, I believe,” Hayes said Thursday afternoon. “I think we have good options.”

Kitsap Transit bought out Horluck one year ago.

“I bought it in 1995. I sold it last year for $1.5 million,” Smith said. “I made a nice profit. I’m happy with the deal.”

But Smith predicted problems for the ferry ridership once Horluck is out of the picture.

“There were four bidders. The specifications in the bid fit one of the bidders (Kitsap Har-bor Tours),” he said.

“But those boats are too small. We had to use one (for a run) and had to leave 23 people on the dock in Bremerton. Those boats only hold 49 people. The bids were based on (boat) specifications that aren’t adequate.”

But once again Hayes didn’t agree with Smith.

“I think he’s thinking about a situation in which you only use one of the boats (per run),” Hayes said. “We may have other plans. I think we have good bids.”

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