Ferries seeking input on long range planning

POULSBO — Washington State Ferries is coming to North Kitsap to get community input about what it thinks is the most important plan for over the next two decades. There will also be an opportunity to bring up any problems that are being experienced with the system. WSF is also expected to unveil a proposed revision to the Kingston Edmonds schedule.

Ferry ridership is expected to surge 30 percent by 2040, WSF officials said. They said that Jumbo I ferries on the Kingston and Edmonds routes will need to be replaced, along with a total of 11 boats.

One question to be put in front of residents: Should two large boats be replaced with the same size boat or with three boats with the same or larger capacity? One WSF ferry is already 60 years old. The agency said its super-class ferries are suffering from reliability issues, including one that has been out of service four summers in a row.

The ferry agency has other questions: Should the replacement priority be to start building replacements on using proven equipment and designs? Alternatively, should production be delayed to explore using leading-edge technologies? On the shore side, what should be done about addressing the long waits and traffic backups that are increasingly being experienced? WSF officials acknowledge that it has been a significant issue on routes.

The public meeting is set for 6-8 p.m. on Tuesday, May 8, at the Kingston Village Green Community Center. Ferry staff will be available to answer questions and solicit input. The Ferry Advisory Committee will be at the meeting, as well, to gather input about problems being experienced with the ferry system.