For months the dreaded Ferrymageddon hovered over the Bainbridge Island ferry terminal like a dark cloud waiting for the time drive-on traffic would be halted for six days while three seismically safe walkways would be placed onto pillars to replace the old structures and improve ADA accessibility.
But when the first ferry arrived for walk-on passengers only on Sept. 7 very few drivers were turned away as the extensive media campaign about the work was obviously successful. Ferry commuters had received word from Kitsap Transit, the state Department of Transportation, the city of BI and media like the Kitsap News Group newspapers and websites. After speaking with many commuters, it was apparent that most had figured out how to get around without using their cars to get to Seattle and beyond.
Some drivers decided to go on vacation; others took care of monthly trips to and from Seattle in advance; and still others worked from home.
For Peter Vosshall of BI, he had to take the Kingston ferry to get his teenage son to Fusion Academy in Seattle for the first week of school. He said the commute wasn’t too bad. “It added an extra hour to our trip home.”
One person who lost business due to empty ferry lines is 62-year-old Reno Faber, a newspaper salesman who has worked in the car lot for 20 years. Faber works mainly in the ferry vehicle waiting lines and sells an average of 70 papers daily. But he’s struggled to sell half that number to walk-on passengers inside the terminal near the walkway.
“It’s definitely impacted my sales,” said Faber, who looks forward to completion of construction because he misses his customers and telling jokes.
As construction crews work to get the spans in place, terminal supervisor Lesley Dougherty said commuters have been very helpful and considerate. “A lot of people took vacation, and most island folk knew how to roll with it.”