Blog Passenger Ferry Future Focus of Cascadia Event

Photo Source: The Kitsap Sun
Seattle’s Center for Wooden Boats was the setting Thursday evening for a gathering of passenger-only ferry advocates, including those from Kingston and King County, Wash., and the U.S. federal government.
The well-attended event (followed by an Ivar’s Seafood-sponsored reception) was organized within the specific context of a new passenger-only service between Kingston and Seattle, and a broader context of supporting more service throughout the region. The Port of Kingston will launch passenger-only service between Kingston and Seattle this fall. (This article in the Kitsap Sun offers details about the new service.)
Capital funding for the new link came from the U.S. Federal Transit Administration. The Port has also developed public-private partnerships to cover initial operating costs. It will, as reported in the Kitsap Sun, “cater to commuters” at first, cutting down on travel times for those who commute to Seattle.
The Port of Kingston’s Eric Osnes told the audience assembled at the Center for Wooden Boats that though this new route will connect Kingston and Seattle, they “don’t see this as a Kingston-only ferry.” Echoing what many have said about a regional approach to the issue, he said he and the Port are interested in the “whole logistics chain not just to Seattle, but beyond.” Designed with commuters in mind, Osnes told the crowd that the new Kingston ferry will allow commuters to travel between Kingston and Seattle in 45 minutes and will initially offer two morning and two evening departures.
Cascadia Center has advocated for expanded passenger ferry service for years, having launched the Passenger Ferry Coalition aboard the Royal Argosy on July 1, 2003, with U.S. Senator Patty Murray, U.S. Representative Norm Dicks, and 300 community leaders. Reduction in greenhouse gases, well-paying careers in local marine manufacturing, advancing technology and tourism are just some of the reasons the organization has supported expanded service. Early on Cascadia Center suggested a “Return of the Mosquito Fleet,” a theme articulated in this 2008 op-ed.
Though building a network of passenger-only ferries in the Puget Sound is a long process, the new service between Kingston and Seattle, is an important piece of the puzzle. And if the excitement on display at Thursday’s event is any indication, communities throughout the Puget Sound could follow in Kingston’s footsteps. They’ll have to in order to complete the puzzle and, as Cascadia’s Bruce Agnew wrote in 2008, “to develop a Salish Sea Express regional foot ferry network transcending political boundaries….”