‘We’re full steam ahead’

The Kitsap Ferry Company’s bid to provide passenger only ferry service from Bremerton to Seattle has been upheld by state regulators.

In a decision issued this week, the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission denied the Inlandboatmen’s Union’s protest against the temporary certificate to provide service.

The Commission determined there is an urgent and immediate need for passenger-only ferry service between Bremerton and Seattle.

The service is set to begin Aug. 1 and will have two morning runs and two evening runs. Tickets range from $5-7 one way. Ticket sales begin this month.

“We’re pleased,” said Greg Dronkert, Kitsap Ferry president Wednesday.

“We’re full steam ahead,” he said.

The temporary permit allows Kitsap Ferry to provide service while its permanent application is being considered. The temporary permit was granted on May 6.

The morning runs will depart Bremerton’s Transportation Center at 5:20 a.m. and 7 a.m. The afternoon ferry will depart from Seattle’s Pier 48 at 3:40 and 5:20 p.m. The crossing should take about 40 minutes on the 250-passenger Spirit of Adventure.

The Inlandboatmen’s Union filed the protest, claiming the need for the proposed ferry service was not immediate and urgent, would take customers away from the state ferry system and would cause environmental damage to Puget Sound. The commission said the union’s concerns were not relevant to the temporary permit, and that it failed to prove the claims had merit.

The Legislature pulled the plug on the WSF run passenger only ferries in September 2003 to focus resources on auto ferries, not because the service was unsuccessful, the commission found.

In 2002 the WSF car ferries transported 448,682 vehicle passengers and 1,048,082 foot passengers. In the same year the WSF passenger-only ferries transported 681,830 people between Bremerton and Seattle.

The commission received 100 comments from members of the public, supporting Kitsap Ferry’s permit for foot-ferry service to Seattle from Bremerton.

The union also withdrew its protest against a permanent application by Aqua Express to operate passenger-only ferry service between Kingston and Seattle. The WUTC heard public comment on that plan Thursday.

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