Kitsap Transit considering Fast Ferry fare hike

Kitsap Transit leadership has confirmed that Fast Ferry travelers could see an increase in fares for the first time since the program’s 2017 inception.

Notes for the agency’s March 2 quarterly community meeting were recently updated to indicate the beginning of a discussion with residents to increase rates on the agency’s three Fast Ferry routes. KT executive director John Clauson cited Feb. 6 a lack of ferry funding and recent increases implemented by Washington State Ferries.

“We’re running pretty much to the limits, and we really don’t have adequate reserves,” Clauson said. “A discussion that we’ve had at the board level was that any additional revenues that would be derived would be dedicated to, not only building up our operating reserves, but also starting a capital reserve replacement program which we do not have.”

Fares on the passenger-only network have remained consistent since the debut of the Bremerton route in 2017, followed by Kingston in 2018 and Southworth in 2021. Passengers pay $2 for eastbound sailings to Seattle and $10 for westbound sailings from Seattle. The fares are cut in half for those who qualify for reduced fare. Riders ages 18 and younger, public safety officers and personal care attendants with “an eligible disabled customer” ride for free.

Clauson said the original rate was determined after community feedback in 2017 indicated an interest in paying more for the convenience of the new travel option compared to the longer WSF sailings. “The community essentially shared with us, and we settled on, that they would be willing to pay an additional two dollars over the cost of their options for the convenience of time-saving,” he said.

A single ticket on the vehicle ferries in 2017 cost $8.20 for westbound riders, and with that same ticket price now nearing the $10 mark, a similar price differential is expected as at least one option for KT’s fare increase. “If we used that same adjustment and used the formula that we did before, we would be at $14 roundtrip instead of $12,” Clauson said. “We would keep the $2 going eastbound and bump to $12 coming back.”

Rates could even climb to $15 with a $13 price tag on westbound sailings, said Clauson, who added part of the upcoming discussion for KT commissioners will include how to consider and structure future fare increases. He said, “A discussion we had briefly was do we want to follow the same methodology that the state uses, which adds a little bit annually, or do we want to hold back and do these kinds of changes on a periodic basis but a larger amount.”

Proposed fare increases would not affect the fares of KT’s Bremerton-Port Orchard and Bremerton-Annapolis foot-ferry routes.