Food for ferries — and thought

In Bremerton, coffee stands are a ubiquitous commodity. The gray skies, chilly weather and cold rain draw Kitsapers to them like moths to light. On an overcast day, nothing warms the hands or the heart like a great cup of coffee.

Additionally, java can make an early morning commute bearable and is as much a part of Kitsapers’ daily lives as the air we breathe. It seems ridiculous, then, that those who need the java fix the most — those folks who commute on the Washington State Ferries — can’t get it.

They can’t get anything, unless, of course, it comes out of a vending machine.

The food service on the ferries ended on Jan. 1 because of a tiff between the WSF, previous food vendor Sodexho and the Inlandboatmens’ Union.

While we respect workers’ rights and acknowledge labor unions are necessary to protect those rights, we acknowledge the big losers in this deal are the ferry passengers.

The ferry passengers and commuters have to deal with enough aggravation without taking away their right to buy food on the ferries: cramped seating conditions, long lines to get on the ferries and the like.

Sure, food service on the ferries is a convenience, but it is a necessary one — and not just for hungry morning commuters.

For many families who live in Bremerton and are fortunate enough to attend Mariners’ and Seahawks games, buying a hot dog or snack on the ferry rather than the stadium can save a bundle.

We all lose time when we are trying to leave the house for an event or work. It has become part of our Kitsap vocabulary to say, “Let’s just grab something to eat on the ferry.”

Not now, we can’t.

In a recent press release from the Washington State Department of Transportation, the WSF released a list of potential vendors for food and beverage services. There were 11 companies interested in the on-board food and beverage service and another 18 companies were interested in food and beverage services at the terminals.

“We are excited that so many food vendors are interested in these contracts,” said Brian Volkert, business development manager for the WSF. “The number and mix of interested vendors is exciting and should help us achieve our goal of providing a whole new approach to food and beverage services throughout the ferry system.”

As for the tiff between the WSF, previous food vendor Sodexho and the IBU, Volkert said: “We are hopeful that potential on-board vendors and the IBU can quickly come to an understanding that will be in the best interest of all parties and will provide a solid basis for submission of bid proposals.”

If that means he hopes both sides will realize the big losers in this deal are the ferry passengers and that will motivate them to fix the situation in a hurry, then we agree.

Any fight that comes between Kitsapers and their coffee isn’t good.

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