King County Metro

Yesterday I the opportunity to chat with Kitsap Transit Executive Director John Clauson and get some updates on the Southworth and Bremerton Fast Ferries.

Southworth

Southworth service is scheduled to begin in 2020. I asked John if he had more specific timing. He said this is still on track but to expect for “latter 2020”.

As for planned schedule, this will be a 1 boat service, similar to how the Kingston Fast Ferry operates today. Since the new route will be sharing a slip in Southworth, the schedule will have to work around the existing Triangle Route that operates between Southworth, Vashon and Fauntleroy. John indicated that a sharing agreement is yet to be worked out but there have been regular conversations with WSF. His sense was that WSF is relatively happy with the latest schedule, which started March 31, 2019 so he doesn’t anticipate they’ll make more than 5 minute adjustments to how this stands today.

On the Seattle side, things are a bit trickier. The passenger ferry dock that is currently operating north of the car ferry dock will soon move to the south side after construction of the new ferry terminal is complete. WSF will then lease the passenger ferry dock from King County. Kitsap Transit is currently negotiating a shared use agreement with King County for this new dock. The dock is designed to operate 2 passenger ferries and will need to accommodate Kingston, Bremerton, Southworth Kitsap Transit Fast Ferries, in addition to the King County Water Taxis that operate to Vashon and West Seattle.

As for vessels, it sounds like things are mostly on track with Kitsap Transit taking delivery of the new bow loader style vessels, MV Enetai and Manette to be delivered mid 2020. This will then go through sea trials and crew training. John didn’t express much concern over the trials and indicated the training to take about 30 days.

As for the Southworth slip, it sounds like there is some interest in building out a 2nd slip on the Southworth side. This would add scheduling flexibility and redundancy in case a vessel breaks down at dock. However, this is still in the exploration phase and not planned for service start in 2020.

Community involvement will look very similar to how they rolled out Kingston. Schedule flexibility is so limited he didn’t think this topic would be put out to the community for feedback.

Parking and route bus changes on the Southworth side are yet to be worked out but he the team has recently started kicking off some of these tactical considerations. I did ask him if there had been any discussion with Pierce Transit about routed bus connections. he said he has been in conversations with their CEO, Sue Dryer, on this very topic and there is interest from Pierce Transit on a potential connection from the Purdy Park & Ride, Pierce County’s closest Park & Ride to the Kitsap County line.

Bremerton

Bremerton recently received and put a 2nd vessel into service, the M/V Reliance. This was the 2nd low wake catamaran to serve the Bremerton route and relieves the Rich Passage I to serve as the backup boat. According to John, Kitsap Transit expects delivery of the 3rd vessel, Lady Swift, in the latter part of July. This was expected earlier (July 10th) but they asked for additional insulation to be applied between the passenger and mechanical cabins, which resulted in additional wake studies. Sea trials are expected to go relatively quickly on this one since this is essentially a carbon copy of the Reliance.

Once this vessel is operational, the RP1 can be dry docked. John says this will take about 2 weeks but no more than 30 days. Once this service is complete, Kitsap Transit will begin promoting the 2 boat schedule. John reluctantly estimated a September timeframe on this. Once the 2 boat schedule begins, a 4 week “scientific study” of potential erosion impact can begin. There is some time sensitivity to completing these 4 weeks of a Monday through Saturday schedule prior to winter both due to the winter schedule and weather considerations. Positive results from the study could result in added sailings even beyond the planed two boat schedule.

I also asked about a recent loading procedure change that passengers have noticed. There are 118 seats on the Bremerton Fast Ferry today and 88 of those are held for reservation holders. Up until last week, reservation holders were also first to board. Walk-ons would then follow. Last week passengers noticed a new procedure where the first 30 walk-ons were boarded before the reservation holders. According to John, this is something Kitsap Transit is trying out because it may yield faster boarding time. I asked if he had data back on this yet but he indicated he hasn’t yet received it.

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January 11th kicks off the ‘Seattle Squeeze’ where the Alaska Way Viaduct closes in preparation for the new tunnel. I haven’t thought all that much about my plan but with it now 9 days away I decided to outline a few strategies so I’m ready when my usual plan breaks down.

My major advantage (I think) is that my destination is actually Bellevue and not Seattle. However, many of my public transportation options (Ferries, Sounder Train) put Seattle on my way so hoping that it isn’t too miserable.

Here are my likely strategies:

  • Telecommute – Keep to my usual schedule but may add a day per week as needed.
  • Timeshift/Carpool – Days where my wife is working in Seattle. The combination of lighter traffic in the late morning + HOV usually makes this a nice way to go but we’ll see what happens when traffic patterns shift.
  • Bremerton WSF / Fast Ferry Return – For weeks where I have the coveted 5:10 reservation to return back from Seattle.
  • Sounder to Tukwila  – crossing my fingers that the train isn’t crushed and I-405 between Tukwila and Bellevue isn’t worse than usual. May combine this with a timeshift earlier to hedge for better I-405 traffic. This isn’t a bad choice with my company shuttle using the HOV lane.
  • Southworth to Vashon WSF / Vashon Water Taxi217 or 554 Bus – if the Sounder Train is miserably crushed I’ll take to the water even w/o a fast ferry reservation. This is my likely every day strategy once the new triangle route goes into effect in April 2019

So let’s get this post out of the way so I can get to the fun stuff. Hi, I’m Ryan. I moved to Gig Harbor from Seattle about 6 months ago. I work at T-Mobile in Bellevue 3-4x days a week and this is going to be my story about my mega-commute journey.

Today’s AM commute

6:25 – Left home

6:50 – Arrived at Port Orchard Foot Ferry Dock

7-7:12 – Foot Ferry to Bremerton

Walking on to the Foot Ferry today I got my first glimpse at the new vessel to be used for the Kingston Fast Ferry, which begins service after Thanksgiving. I can only imagine the Kingston to Seattle commuters are going to be thrilled.

Melissa Anne in Port Orchard

7:20-8:20 Bremerton Washington State Ferry

(This is always my favorite part of the journey. Great time for pretty much anything… working, walking, coffee, beers, etc. I’m always amazed on how many people I see sleeping down on one side of the booth seating. Maybe I’ll get it after awhile. So far I’ve been unable to sleep on any commute.

8:29-8:55 554E to Eastgate FWY Station

8:55-9 Walk to Eastgate P&R

9:05-9:10 271 Bus to 158th/Eastgate

(Attempted the new Ride2 service, which looked like it would be great timing but as I sat there waiting, my plan b (271 bus) showed up so I took the “bird in hand”. Sidenote: I used Ride2 a week ago scoring a backup as one of the first riders and it worked great getting me from work to Eastgate P&R. I’ll give it a few more tries.

9:10-9:15 Walk from bus stop to office. Arrived!

Total Time:  2:50 mins.

In my old office I was satisfied if I cracked the 2 hour mark. Now being further east I’ll be shooting for 2:20.

Learnings/Fun Facts:

  1. Try the 8am Fast Ferry to shave off :30 With my new office, bus connections aren’t so much of an issue since the 212, 217 and 554 all hit the Eastgate P&R or FWY Station.
  2. Ride2 is great when it works. I submitted the ride from the app in between Mercer Island and Eastgate today. Perhaps try calling it while ON Mercer Island or sooner. This could shave 5 mins waiting and 5 mins walking. Whiteboard strategy session with coworker below with a similar problem coming from Seattle. Also in play are the company shuttles that run between HQ/Sunset/3305 buildings all around Eastgate. Other options include Lyft (subsidized by TMO), Limebike and walking when all else fails from Eastgate.IMG_4877.jpg
  3. Today I went through 3 counties (Pierce, Kitsap and King).

All in all a good commute and fitting first post since I used the 4 different public transportation agencies:

  • Kitsap Transit
  • WSF
  • Sound Transit (554)
  • KC Metro (271)

That’s it for now.  Car is in Port Orchard so plan is to return back via WSF this PM unless I somehow score a 5:10 Fast Ferry reservation, which is the hardest Ferry ticket in town. :/