Starting this Monday, there will be another attempt to start a passenger ferry service across Puget Sound from Kingston in Northern Kitsap County directly into Downtown Seattle.  This is a public endeavor by the Port of Kingston.  A similar, popular service was operated by a private company in the past, but did not on it’s own make a profit.  Now that it will be run as a public service, it should be a great compliment to the current public transportation system.

Many people see this and similar proposed services as a necessary solution to the issue of the growth of a metropolitan area across an inland sea.  Others, those who seem to look only at their immediate needs, cannot see the necessity of planning for the future of our region.  The same people who delayed the Seattle Area’s long-needed light rail program by 30 or more years would not like to see similar delays in planning for Westward growth from the center of Seattle.

Ignoring the problem will not delay growth, it will only delay the solution.

In reading the article in the Seattle PI, there were many misguided comments below the article.  I took the time to address some of the questions asked there.  Unfortunately, witty barbs addressed to no-one-in-particular are not going to solve any problems, either.

Here are some examples of the kinds of questions that are brought up.  Really, it’s quite easy to make unrelated comments to a non-problem:

Q: Why not spend $4 million on job creation in Kitsap County? A: Why not! Do what they did for the ferry — present the idea to local government, find funding through grants or other means, and go for it! Good for you for getting this started.  In fact, that would truly be a good project for someone.

Q: Smaller boats, smaller crews, bad weather, transiting and crossing shipping lanes, not self-sustaining, no weekend service. A:You support larger boats that require larger crews and weekend service? Not very practical. This service should be a fine supplement to other overloaded services, and will get it’s share of traffic. But, why does this need to be self-supporting out of the farebox when the ferry, train and bus that you (and others) mention do not?

Q: One of the crew members told me that it took 350 gallons of fuel to make for the trip (from Port Townsend to Seattle) —- one way. What was “green” about that? A:Yes, the M/V Snohomish did use a lot of fuel. That is the reason it is not still around. (It was sold soon thereafter for use in San Francisco Bay.)   That is why there is a more appropriately-sized vessel on this run.

Q: Will the $15 fare include seasick pills for rough passages to Seattle in the fall, winter and spring? A: I would presume so. Just like they distribute free Dramamine on the Sounder train. What, they don’t?  Seriously, the former Victoria Express boat has been used in all sorts of weather crossing the Strait of Juan de Fuca, without major incident.  Likewise, the Spirit of Kingston is a sturdy craft that has seen all kinds of conditions.  That shouldn’t be an issue in Puget Sound.

Q: There’s nothing green about stimulating sprawl. A: No, there isn’t. But we do have sprawl and population growth in our region. Having a variety of mass transit options is still better than subsidizing more highways and auto ferries for single-occupancy cars into the Seattle area. Ignoring the solutions will not stop the problem.

Somehow, I crave a good intellectual debate on the pros and cons of different transit options across the Sound. Somehow, all of this sniping doesn’t satisfy that need at all. Nor does it answer any questions.

I am looking forward to the success of this new ferry option for commuters.