PORT ANGELES — More and more travelers are using the Strait Shot to get to Seattle, Clallam Transit officials said.
Ridership on the daily bus from downtown Port Angeles to the Bainbridge Island ferry terminal was up 30 percent from July 2017 to July 2018 with 1,367 boardings recorded last month, Operations and Planning Manager Steve Hopkins said.
That’s an average of about 13 people on the bus for each one-way trip.
“We’re really pleased with the reception of the Strait Shot and look forward to continuing that service in the future,” Hopkins told the Port Angeles City Council during public comment Tuesday.
Clallam Transit launched the out-of-boundary service to Bainbridge Island in June 2017.
It costs $10 cash — $5 for youth and pass holders — to make the 75-mile trip from the Gateway transit center to the state ferry terminal.
The two-hour trip includes brief stops in Sequim, Blyn, Discovery Bay, Poulsbo and Agate Pass.
Two round trips are offered Mondays through Saturdays and one round trip is made Sundays.
The No. 123 Strait Shot leaves Port Angeles at 7:25 a.m. and 6 p.m. weekdays and 3:15 p.m. Sundays.
Go to on www.clallamtransit.com for the complete schedule.
“Weekend travel periods are certainly quite busy,” Hopkins said in a Thursday interview.
“Sundays have been quite popular. We’ve been really pleased with the numbers that we saw in July, and then already in August.”
Strait Shot operators counted 1,180 passengers in June, 1,367 in July and 437 in the first week of August, all of which were increases from last year, Hopkins said.
“People are figuring out that the travel time is really competitive with driving by private car,” Hopkins said.
Clallam Transit General Manager Kevin Gallacci said he often hears about the Strait Shot in public forums and in general discussions about Clallam Transit services.
“I engage in many conversations about the Strait Shot with folks that use the service, know someone that uses it, or is planning to use it themselves,” Gallacci said in a Thursday email.
“I personally get the opportunity to routinely inform travelers about this option and always receive positive comments about their experience. It has been just an excellent addition to our service and has introduced many new customers to Clallam Transit.”
About two-thirds of those who completed a survey on the Strait Shot last summer said that they were riding a Clallam Transit bus for the first time.
Transit officials have no immediate plans to expand the Strait Shot service.
“We really wanted to make sure this concept takes off before we expand it further,” Hopkins said.
A limiting factor to service expansion is the availability of space at the public transit hub at the ferry terminal during peak hours.
Clallam Transit uses the Kitsap Transit bus loop at certain times of day through an interlocal agreement with its partner agency.
Hopkins predicted that a service expansion — perhaps a second Sunday trip — would be on the “discussion table” next year.
Before the service began, Transit officials set out to recover the full cost operating the Strait Shot.
“We’re at about a 75 percent fare recovery point at this point after a year,” Hopkins said. “It’s not quite at that [100 percent] goal yet, but it’s certainly trending in that direction.”
While the Strait Shot is not yet a money-maker, it remains the system’s most self-sufficient route.
“It’s certainly the least subsidized of our routes,” Hopkins said. “The fares that are collected on the route pay a higher percentage of our cost.”
No reservations are taken for the Strait Shot. Buses are loaded on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Alternatives to the Strait Shot include the Dungeness Line, a commercial service now operated by Greyhound Lines.
The Dungeness Line provides daily service from Port Angeles to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, a five-hour trip that now includes a stop in Port Townsend. The one-way fare to Sea-Tac is $49.
Travelers can get from Port Angeles to Sea-Tac for $13 via the Strait Shot, no-fare westbound ferry and light-rail from downtown Seattle, Hopkins said.
Hopkins said the $10 Strait Shot fare will remain for the foreseeable future to encourage county residents to leave their cars at home.
“We want to play a role in helping to reduce traffic on the highway between Clallam County and the Puget Sound,” Hopkins said.
“Every person that we can get in our bus is person not driving in a car.”
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected].