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Kitsap Transit Fast Ferry to Seattle approved by voters

KITSAP COUNTY — People living in Kitsap County will soon be getting a faster way to travel to and from Seattle.

On Tuesday, Kitsap County voters approved a proposition that will pay for a new fast ferry.

Currently, the only way to get to and from Seattle across the Puget Sound is on the state ferries.

Starting next year, a new passenger-only ferry will give people traveling from Kitsap County an alternative to get to Seattle.

The Kitsap Transit Ferry will take half the time than the regular state ferries.

If you head to Bremerton from Seattle on a state ferry, it’ll take you an hour to get there, but that commute time could be cut in half by next July.

“That actually would be a really good idea,” said Joshua Peachock, who has been commuting from Bremerton to Seattle several days a week.

In Kitsap County, voters just approved paying for a faster ferry service. The passenger-only vessel that will take about 30 minutes to travel between Bremerton and Seattle.

Kitsap Transit will also provide a direct link from two other Kitsap County locations to Seattle.

“There’s two other communities, Kingston in the north area and Southworth in South Kitsap that currently do not have direct connections to Seattle,” said John Clauson, the executive director of Kitsap Transit.

Kitsap Transit is behind the fast ferry service idea and they took the plan to the ballot.

On Election Day, more than 51 percent of voters approved it.

“This is the third time that this or some variation of this proposal has been on the ballot,” added Clauson.

This vessel that will be used is already docked in Port Orchard. The vessel has a unique design so that it creates less wakes in the water near Bremerton, in an area known as Rich Passage. The boat is designed to have less impact to the shore line and to marine life.

Kitsap Transit said that was one of the main reasons the proposal failed twice before.

“I think it would be great for those who have the money to spare,” said Holly McKee, who lives in Kitsap County.

The money to pay for the new ferry will come from an increase in sales tax of about 3 cents for every $10 dollars spent in Kitsap County.

The total project will cost $48 million, which includes the purchase of five more boats.

After that, it’ll cost $11 million a year to operate.

“I really don’t see a need for it. I think taxes could go to much better places and every penny adds up when you’re raising a family here and it’s already hard enough,” said McKee.

Commuters, however, believe this new option will benefit many.

“Actually it would be worth it to save half an hour a day, actually it’d save me an hour a day because it’s back and forth,” added Peachock.

The new sales tax will kick in next year, months before the July launch of the fast ferry between Bremerton and Seattle.

Kitsap Transit said service between Kingston will begin in 2018 while service from Southworth will start in 2020.

According to Kitsap Transit, once the program is up and running, it’s expected to carry about 800,000 passengers a year.

An adult ticket will cost $12 for a round-trip ride. Half-price fares will be offered to seniors, disabled, youth, and low income. Riders can also pay with an ORCA card, and bus riders boarding the ferry will get credit for their bus fare.