PORT ANGELES — Greyhound Lines is adjusting to its new role as provider of the North Olympic Peninsula’s only scheduled commercial passenger service from Port Angeles to Seattle Sea-Tac International Airport.
Company spokeswoman Cashlie Goertz said Thursday that Greyhound expects to adjust departure times following complaints about the extra hour the company added to the schedule as of July 1.
It’s now a five-hour trek from Port Angeles to Sea-Tac for a trip that otherwise takes about 2½ hours by car from Port Angeles but now includes an hour-long detour to Port Townsend that did not exist before July 1.
Goertz said by the end of August a survey of residents will be distributed to seek ideas from the public for improving service on the publicly owned route, which the state Department of Transportation calls the Dungeness Line.
It’s being prepared “so that we can ensure that the community’s needs are met with the schedule change,” she said.
The public route is operated under a DOT contract that Greyhound won this summer over the previous operator, Port Angeles-based Olympic Bus Lines.
Heckman Motors is owned by Olympic Bus Lines owner Jack Heckman and now takes reservations for Greyhound under its own contract with the national carrier.
Olympic Bus Lines made the trip shorter for Port Angeles riders by having a separate bus take riders from Port Townsend to the intersection of state Highway 20 and U.S. Highway 101.
“We are getting comments that the trip is too long compared to how it used to be,” Heckman said Wednesday.
“They want to make this work.”
The route offers the only scheduled commercial passenger service in Clallam and Jefferson counties ever since air passenger service ended at William R. Fairchild International Airport in November 2014.
“I just feel like what used to exist was basically what we could call a direct route from Sea-Tac to Sequim and Port Angeles,” Sequim resident and pianist-composer Linda Dowdell, formerly of New York City, said Thursday.
A colleague’s first words off the bus when she visited Dowdell on July 22 for a teaching stint were, “Wow, that was long,” Dowdell recalled.
“It’s just a slap in the face to Sequim and Port Angeles residents to have to go through Port Townsend.
“Nobody would do that on their way home,” she said, unless intentionally making an extra stop.
“Greyhound is trying not to have that secondary vehicle.
“Clearly they are saving money there.”
Goertz said Greyhound, in an effort to respond to rider concerns about the length of the Port Angeles-Sea-Tac trip, might change its schedule by leaving a half-hour earlier from Port Angeles and Sea-Tac including, for example, at about 5:30 a.m. from Port Angeles instead of the current 6:10 a.m.
The company also might shorten the trip to Port Townsend by switching its Port Townsend stop from Haines Place in Port Townsend to south of the city, at the Four Corners Road-state Highway 19 Jefferson Transit bus stop.
The survey will provide an outlet for residents to express their opinions on any changes, Goertz said.
The potential changes could shorten the one-way trip by about an hour, making it the same length of time as was Olympic Bus Lines’ service.
“We’re looking at a couple of different options” for the Port Townsend stop, Goertz said.
“The goal is to see what are the main priorities of the whole community.”
Fares are more expensive than the company previously announced when Greyhound took over the route July 1, but Greyhound is reviewing the round-trip pricing structure.
Goertz explained that one-way fare of $49 to Sea-Tac, with stops in Sequim and downtown Seattle as well as Port Townsend, has increased slightly due to an added service fee.
But that the discounted round-trip price of $79 that was offered by Olympic Bus Lines is not being utilized by Greyhound, she said.
Instead, the round-trip fare is equivalent to two one-way fares of $49 each, plus a $3 service fee, making the basic fare $103, or 30 percent higher than the fare before July 1.
Options allowing priority boarding, two checked bags instead of one, and the ability to change a travel time or date without an extra fee costs a total of $10 more each way.
Discounted fares are offered to seniors and children.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].