PORT TOWNSEND — Starting Feb. 22 — the Tuesday after Presidents Day weekend — Jefferson Transit will send the new Kingston Express bus to the ferry dock in Kingston, where passengers can catch boats to Edmonds or downtown Seattle.
The No. 14 bus will take an hour and 12 minutes to make its way from the Haines Place Transit Center to the terminal where both the Kitsap Transit foot ferry and the Washington State Ferry come in.
From its debut until March 31, the Kingston Express will be free to ride, said Miranda Nash, Jefferson Transit’s mobility operations manager. In addition, the transit agency will offer free transfers to ride the Kitsap ferry. Known as the Kingston Fast Ferry, that vessel takes 40 minutes to reach Seattle’s Pier 50.
Starting April 1, the fare will be $8 each way, while a reduced fare of $6 will be available for disabled riders and passengers under 18 or over 60.
“The service will run twice a day, Monday through Saturday,” Nash noted, with departures in the morning and afternoon. The bus’ route will include:
• Departure from Port Townsend’s Haines Place Park & Ride, 440 12th St. across from Safeway;
• Jefferson Transit’s Four Corners Park & Ride, 63 Four Corners Road;
• The Gateway Visitors Center, 93 Beaver Valley Road in Port Ludlow;
• Arrival at the Kingston terminal, 11264 state Highway 104.
On its morning and afternoon runs, the new bus aims to give passengers ample time to catch the Fast Ferry, arriving about 18 minutes before that boat sails for Seattle.
The Kingston Express bus schedule:
• Morning departure from Port Townsend 7:15 a.m.; stop at Four Corners 7:28 a.m.; Gateway Visitors Center 7:53 a.m.; arrive Kingston 8:27 a.m.
• Afternoon departure from Port Townsend 2:45 p.m.; stop at Four Corners 2:58 p.m.; Gateway Visitors Center 3:23 p.m.; arrive Kingston 3:57 p.m.
• Returning morning departure from Kingston 8:42 a.m.; stop at Gateway Visitors Center 9:19 a.m.; Four Corners 9:44 a.m.; arrive in Port Townsend 9:57 a.m.
• Returning afternoon departure from Kingston 4:12 p.m.; stop at Gateway Visitors Center 4:49 p.m.; Four Corners 5:14 p.m.; arrive in Port Townsend 5:27 p.m.
These times are set to connect well with the Kingston Fast Ferry on weekdays only; that boat doesn’t sail on Saturdays. The Kingston Express bus will, however, allow passengers to catch the Washington State Ferry to Edmonds six days a week. The state ferry’s soonest morning departure is at 8:40 a.m.; its afternoon boats are at 4 p.m. and 4:40 p.m.
On this route, Jefferson Transit will run a 2013 Ford F-550 with seating for 23 passengers, Nash said. The bus will have a bicycle rack to accommodate up to three bikes.
“The importance of this route is it provides real value to people,” Jefferson County Commissioner Kate Dean said Thursday.
“We are always trying to find ways to increase ridership on public transit,” but that’s been difficult since many of Jefferson Transit’s buses can take longer, and be otherwise less convenient than driving one’s own car.
But the Kingston Express offers multiple benefits: Riding it can be less expensive than filling a car’s gas tank. The bus removes the need to find and pay for a parking spot near the ferry terminal. And the Kingston dock is easier to get to than the one on Bainbridge Island, Dean said, since the latter can get clogged with cars coming onto and off the boat.
“I’m very excited that this is starting,” added Dean, who has been championing the idea of a Kingston bus for the entire five years she has served on the Jefferson Transit Authority Board.
Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or firstname.lastname@example.org.