PORT TOWNSEND — Here’s a potential new way to get to the big city, car-free: Board a Jefferson Transit bus, gaze at the scenery for about an hour, arrive in Kingston, then walk onto the fast ferry to downtown Seattle.
This would be a “one seat” ride, in transit-speak. Now through March 15, a survey of demand and desire for a bus to the Kingston Ferry Terminal is posted at jeffersontransit.com and the Jefferson Transit Authority Facebook page.
“We’ve received more responses from this survey than we ever have before,” said Tammi Rubert, Jefferson Transit general manager.
Some 400 responses have come in since the survey was posted last week, added Miranda Nash, mobility operations manager.
The survey’s nine questions include:
• How often would you ride a bus from Jefferson County to the Kingston ferry dock?
• Which days of the week would you take it, and what time in the morning and evening?
• Would your main reason for riding it be commuting to work, recreation in Seattle, going to the airport or something else?
• How much would you pay for this bus: less than $8, $10 to $12, or $14 to $16?
• Any other comments?
Jefferson Transit has purchased a bus from the old Dungeness Line, which used to transport people from the North Olympic Peninsula to Seattle, Nash said; its seats are suited for longer rides.
The trip to Kingston is projected to be about an hour, she said. It would depart from the Haines Place Park and Ride in Port Townsend and pick up more riders at three to-be-determined stops in the county.
Departures would be timed to connect with the Kitsap Fast Ferry, which crosses to Seattle in about 40 minutes.
The passenger-only boat to Seattle costs $10; coming back to Kingston, the fare is $2.
Jefferson Transit’s Kingston bus also would deliver people who want to catch the Washington State Ferry to Edmonds.
There are already a few other ways to take public transit to Seattle: Jefferson Transit offers a two-bus connection — a 100- to 120-minute trip — to the Bainbridge Island Ferry Terminal on Monday through Saturday. And the Strait Shot, a $10-each-way Clallam Transit bus, takes passengers from Port Angeles and Sequim to Bainbridge Island seven days a week.
The addition of a Jefferson Transit bus to Kingston is in the 2021 budget, Rubert said.
Sales tax is transit’s main revenue stream, while the premium fares for this new route would add funds.
The new bus could be running by midsummer, depending on several factors: survey results, recruitment and training of drivers, and progress on COVID-19 immunization.
As for the rest of Jefferson Transit’s service around the county and to Sequim, it has been fare-free since the start of the pandemic. Riding the bus will stay free for the foreseeable future, Rubert said.
The agency is striving to bring people back onto the buses, which Rubert emphasized are run according to COVID-19 safety protocols.
Ridership has fallen off about 50 percent since last March, Nash reported, from an average 750 passengers per day to 330.
“We have a very strict regimen of disinfecting our buses. We require masks on every single bus,” said Rubert, adding that, with no fares, there’s less interaction between passenger and driver.
Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]