Foot ferries: A case of 'be a doer'

Distinctions are clear in the run up to the Nov. 4 general election on Proposition 1, the measure deciding whether Kitsap Transit picks up on the passenger-only ferry business where Washington State Ferries left off.

Naysayers have claimed from day one that the effort to subsidize foot ferries is unfair, forcing all of Kitsap County to pay for the commutes of roughly 1-2 percent of the population.

Backers of the measure claim that the lack of foot-ferry service to Bremerton would stifle resurgent redevelopment in Kitsap County’s largest city. They also claim foot-ferry service to Vashon Island and Kingston could spark growth and increase vitality to those communities.

The measure to put foot-ferry service under local control in Kitsap County would not come cheap. The increase of three tenths of one percent in the sales tax would give Kitsap County the highest sales tax in the state and license plate renewals would increase three-tenths of one cent via the motor vehicle excise tax.

But it’s a fact that between 80,000 and 100,000 new residents can be expected in Kitsap County in the next decade.

When you live on a peninsula such as Kitsap County, people have to be moved. They must transition to and from work, to and from educational, cultural and recreational opportunities across Puget Sound that are not available in Kitsap County.

Kitsap Transit has shown itself to be a remarkably efficient and fiscally sound business. Inexpensive, clean and ubiquitous bus transportation runs from all compass points in Kitsap County.

We believe that the same sound fiscal practices will inaugurate and then invigorate the foot-ferry business if voters approve the Nov. 4 ballot issue.

Kitsap Transit has already identified a shipyard and naval architect that could build a boat that will be much less expensive to run than WSF vessels and that could attenuate wake problems that hampered WSF foot-ferries traversing Rich Passage.

The city of Bremerton has its fiscal house in order now after two decades of benign neglect. One need only check its skyline to see the construction cranes soaring over the new conference center/hotel complex and the new city/county/federal government center.

Hundreds of people with equal parts foresight and money have vested Bremerton on the road to recovery — a road that will be significantly blocked if foot-ferry service is not resumed.

A yes vote on Proposition 1 is similar to voting yes for school bonds and levies. It shows potential businesses, residents, and also tourists, that our community is forward-thinking and capable of thinking outside the box to keep our economy vibrant.

A no vote continues the same tired old laments. No new taxes. We don’t want growth here. Why should so many subsidize so few? That style of thinking kept Bremerton economically repressed for 20 years.

The Kitsap Transit fleet would be comprised of 14 high-tech, low-cost ferries. They will keep people moving. When people are moving efficiently, their money is moving as well. As money churns, economies turn. As economies turn, goods and services and jobs and opportunities abound.

Foot-ferry service for Bremerton, Kingston and Vashon Island benefits all of us in manners large and small. Don’t be a naysayer.

As Nextel’s marketing campaign proclaims: “be a doer.” Vote yes on Proposition 1.

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