KT identifies site for Fast Ferries terminal in Seattle

Kitsap Transit’s Fast Ferries is one step closer to obtaining a pier in downtown Seattle.

KT’s executive board March 7 identified Pier 48, owned by the state Department of Transportation, as a pier that could be developed into a ferry terminal solely for Kitsap County.

Kitsap Fast Ferries docks routes from Bremerton, Southworth and Kingston at Pier 50 per a five-year agreement with King County Metro that began in 2019. Pier 50 also serves as the dock for King County Water Taxi and is adjacent to the Washington State Ferries terminal.

That facility has limited the full-service potential of Kitsap’s routes. District 1 Kitsap County Commissioner Robert Gelder said a decision to move toward a solid destination has been a long time coming given the challenges of the shared-use system.

“When we ventured into the POF (passenger-only ferry) realm, one of our biggest concerns was being, pardon the pun, the captains of our own destiny,” he said. “We need to be in control of a facility that supports the service that we’re providing to our community.”

Kristen Kissinger of KPFF Consulting Engineers offered clarity to those challenges, noting the current pier’s limited size both offshore with just two slips and onshore with limited terminal capacity.

Kissinger said the small size works against efforts to expand KT service, creating more need to find its own space. “It’s really to make sure that there’s optimized sailing schedules for customers so that rather than going in when it’s available, you can go in when your customers actually want to go in,” she said.

Kissinger identified Pier 48 and the north apron of Pier 46 as the two most likely options for Kitsap’s newest terminal. Both would access downtown Seattle and nearby stops for King County transportation, as well as continue to provide close proximity to T-Mobile Park and Lumen Field for major sports and concerts.

“This new facility couldn’t just be anywhere,” Kissinger said. “It needed to be in downtown Seattle because that’s where your ridership wants to go. It needs to be in a place that’s within walking distance to job centers and health care and transit connections.”

Pier 48 is in a dilapidated state in the water, Kissinger said, and the uplands are used by WSDOT for overflow vehicle holding. Next steps for Kitsap Transit include an environmental review and development of a terminal and slip design.