City will again fund extended foot ferry summer hours

The city will once again partner with local entities in providing additional foot ferry service between Port Orchard and Bremerton this summer with Kitsap Harbor Tours, Inc.

The Port Orchard City Council voted 5-1 in favor of the measure during its April 8 meeting. Councilman John Clauson, who is also executive director of Kitsap Transit, recused himself from the matter.

Last year, the city partnered with the Port of Bremerton and City of Bremerton. The City of Port Orchard allocated $9,500, while the City of Bremerton gave $6,500 and the Port pitched in $5,500. Ferry hours were extended to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, and operated four hours on Sundays.

But this year, Kitsap County will contribute $4,000 for service and the city has allocated up to $6,500 towards the total cost of $22,000.

The cost to operate the foot ferry is $152 per hour.

This summer the extended hours on Fridays and Saturdays were reduced to 10:30 p.m. with two more hours added on Sundays, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The extended hours will run May 23 to Aug. 31 with hours coordinated around local events such as Fathom o’ Fun and The Cruz.

Councilman Jerry Childs, the lone opposing vote, said he knows the city wants to provide economic stimulus and promote the city.“It all makes sense in some way, but financially it doesn’t make sense at all,” Childs said. ‘It’s a huge loser.”

He said no one knows if the riders are coming to Port Orchard to shop or eat, or home from work.

“We don’t even know if they are coming our way. We don’t know if it’s our people going the other way,” Childs said.

Childs noted there was an average of 45 riders per day during the extended hours last summer.

“I not going to support this, but I won’t mind seeing it restructured,” he added.

Councilman Rob Pataansuu said cutting the service back to 10:30 p.m. and extending Sunday hours was a good move.

“I think we need to give this an opportunity. We've only done it [for] one year,” he said.

Councilman Jeff Cartwright said he would look at this summer’s numbers when the issue comes up again in 2015.

“It’s a public transit and it’s just not profitable,” Cartwright added.

Councilman Fred Chang said he agreed with Cartwright about it being a transit function and not making money.

“I hope it will come closer to breaking even,” said Chang.

Councilwoman Cindy Lucarelli said last year part of the criteria for extending the foot ferry hours was the opening of the Port Orchard Public Market, which didn’t happen.

“The people who petitioned the council last year asked for the extended hours because the market was going to open,” said Lucarelli. “The market didn’t open and we don’t know how that would affect the numbers.”

Lucarelli said she will watching what the ridership will be this summer.

According to District 2 Commissioner Charlotte Garrido, board chair, she (along with commissioners Robert Gelder and Linda Streissguth) agreed that funding the foot ferry for extended summer hours was needed.

“The Bremerton-Port Orchard foot ferry is well used and adding extra service in the nicest season of the year offers a unique transportation opportunity for South Kitsap,” Garrido said.


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