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Kitsap Transit schedules special meeting to discuss service cuts

The Kitsap Transit Board of Commissioners will hold a special meeting next week to further discuss proposed reductions to bus service and allow the public to comment.

“I don’t feel comfortable (voting on this) without addressing some of the questions (that were raised),” Poulsbo Mayor Kathryn Quade said when the set of reductions were last brought before the board Sept. 15.

Quade was referring to a set of policies that would shape further reductions in Kitsap Transit bus service, which Executive Director Dick Hayes said are necessary because the agency “continues to experience budget problems (due to) the decline in sales tax revenues.”

The policies include eliminating some bus routes and combining others, having certain ACCESS buses run less frequently and reducing the hours buses run on Saturdays.

The recommendations also include running more frequent services on a “spine that will serve high density areas.”

The policies do not address raising fares or reducing administrative costs, which some riders suggested at recent public meetings.

“I would be open to discussing fare increases,” said Hayes, adding the last fare increase appeared to be responsible for the loss of about 5 percent of passengers. “We can look at different fare increases, but I fear with rising gas prices, we may lose even more passengers.”

Port Orchard Mayor Lary Coppola said he still had questions regarding ACCESS service and, “in light of the financial information provided today, I would like more information.”

South Kitsap Commissioner Charlotte Garrido asked if there was any effort to address some of the questions and comments made about particular routes, and said perhaps “we really do need to look at raising the fares?”

Regardless, Garrido said she felt the information provided to the board Tuesday was too much to absorb in such a short timeframe.

“I move we have a special meeting to explore this complex situation,” she said.

Hayes agreed that an “extra meeting is essential” and said it would be scheduled within two weeks. The board voted unanimously to hold the meeting, at which time several members of the audience applauded.

The meeting is scheduled for Oct. 8 at 2 p.m. at the Norm Dicks Government Building in Bremerton.

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