Kingston’s on-again/off-again love affair with passenger-only boats is apparently getting serious as the smoochfest resumes in the wake of an enormous federal grant that’s been confirmed as on its way to the port.
More than $3 million in Ferry Boat Discretionary Program funds are expected to flow into the Port of Kingston and while the commissioners aren’t chatting about it — yet — Washington State Department of Transportation officials are saying it’s a done deal. The moneys would be more than enough to get the failed relationship back on track, but as anyone who’s followed this soap opera can attest, making sure it stays there is the real challenge.
Kingston has succeeded in getting a passenger-only ferry run to Seattle before after all, but lack of public interest scuttled the service before its first anniversary was celebrated. The “Field of Dreams” — if you build it, they will come — vision became a financial nightmare for foot ferry owners Aqua Express, which has been treading water ever since. Low ridership which was blamed on everything from exorbitant ticket prices to poorly planned departure times, spoke volumes as few took advantage of the faster route to the east side.
Now, it appears as if cupid has shot a second arrow into the respective behinds of passenger-only boats and North End residents, but whether the latter again let this love die on the vine has yet to be determined. County voters, as evidenced by Kitsap Transit’s failed tax proposal in February, seem as a whole to be taking a “call me on your dime” approach to the boats.
But everyone here seems so tired of being taxed through the nose, and then some, this attitude isn’t surprising.
Nonetheless, the unofficial grant award is as exciting as the North End’s first kiss with the passenger-only boats in 2005. But before it gets too twitterpated, a reasonable and viable plan must be created first and furthermore the ferry service will need resounding support of the commuters, and not just the Kingston business community.
Not that the latter’s backing isn’t integral in helping the ferry service succeed, but let’s face it: People who own businesses in Kingston aren’t the ones who will be riding the boats twice a day anyway.
After all, they do work in Kingston.
Once this puppy gets rolling, it’s up to the hundreds who make the long trip to Seattle and farther to ensure the hard work that goes into any long-term relationship is undertaken. Otherwise, $3 million or not, the proposal will fail.
And if it does, once again, we’ll all only have ourselves to blame.
The greater Kingston area has tasted sweet success.
The greater Kingston area has tasted bitter defeat.
But which entree it bites into in the coming years is wholly up to those in charge of creating a viable passenger-only boat plan and those who commute to Seattle from, yes, you guessed it, the greater Kingston area.
Without cooperation and backing from both, the service will be twice scorned.
The second chance must be seized, for if it isn’t, the foot ferries unrequited love will likely be the last chance to romance such a service here in the North End for quite some time.