Opinion

Kitsap Transit’s empire is vast enough already

Kitsap County has any number of public officials who, to one extent or another, seem out of touch with the residents they serve. But for sheer chutzpah, it would be hard to top Kitsap Transit’s Dick Hayes, who last week expressed his desire to create a whole new local agency to focus on passenger-only ferries (POF) and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).

Hayes’ “vision” would be astygmatic enough under any circumstances, given the fact that county residents have repeatedly made it clear they don’t want to subsidize any level of foot-ferry service for those who choose to live here and commute to Seattle.

But to unveil the plan at precisely the same moment Kitsap Transit is making wholesale reductions to its rural bus service suggests Hayes not only has no idea where Kitsap Transit is going, but also that he’s a little fuzzy on where it is now.

Leaving aside the passenger-only ferry component, Hayes described BRT as a “set of transit and land-use strategies that can provide many of the benefits of light-rail at a fraction of the cost,” and include giving buses separate lanes with intersection preference, using larger, multi-door buses that run lower to the ground at much higher frequencies and with limited stops.

Offhand, does that sound like something that’s going to be less expensive than what Kitsap Transit is struggling mightily to offer now? If not, how does he propose to pay for it?

The capper is that Hayes is basing his grand design on highly dubious projections by the Puget Sound Regional Council that Kitsap County’s population will swell by 150,000 over the next 30 years.

Maybe it will and maybe it won’t, but given the PSRC’s agenda and history, there’s no reason for Kitsap County residents to take anything that particular agency says on faith.

Which brings us right back to our confusion over how Hayes figures an agency that apparently can’t afford to provide the basic bus service it’s supposed to can suddenly branch out into foot ferries and social engineering.

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