North End sails in good attendance at ferry panel

ALKI POINT — Since the Puget Sound Mosquito Fleet ceased in the early 1900s and following a brief stint with Aqua Express, North Kitsap commuters have been feeling the harsh passenger-only ferry drought. After a Cascadia Discover Institute panel Monday evening at Alki Point, however, foot ferry hopefuls in Kingston and Poulsbo are feeling relief plans may be buoyed sooner rather than later.

Though the panel did not reveal a miracle cure to Kitsap County’s ferry woes, it did provide the chance for local advocates to discuss and exchange information with other Puget Sound politicians, groups and commuters.

“It went well,” said Kingston Express Association manager Nels Sultan. The KEA hopes to start a commuter run passenger-only ferry from Kingston to Seattle until the program is stable enough to operate on its own. “The get together was not overly formal. Nothing dramatic came out of it. It was good though, there was a lot of media coverage. I think people generally are aware and interested on the east side of the Sound and want to know more about what we’re doing.”

The reason for the panel was to draw attention to different plans and ferry projects around western Washington, and to celebrate King County’s own foot ferry success. It was spearheaded by CDI director Bruce Agnew, who, along with the institute, continues to work with other groups to get a system running again through the Sound.

“It was really positive, really kind of a jam session,” said Olympic Property Group President Jon Rose. “I will tell you, Kitsap County was extraordinarily well represented there.”

Before the panel discussion, Rose wanted to draw attention not only to future ferry service, but to existing programs that are often overlooked, such as the Sounder train that stops in Edmonds and Seattle.

“We had so much representation from Kitsap County,” said Port of Kingston Commissioner Pete DeBoer. “If you guys don’t think Kitsap County is serious about passenger-only ferries, we had the best representation per capita. It went very, very well. It was kind of a pep rally for the Mosquito Fleet.”

King County is rising to the surface with its own ferry programs, and Sultan said he has been in contact with political leaders and groups from the east side of the water. The panel provided another way for them to listen to different proposals.

“It was more informational,” he said. “Well, yes, we talked and members on the city council from the east side liked our concept of sharing ferries. I think things are moving forward a little quicker. Having us around motivates Kitsap Transit to move up their plans for the county and Kingston.”w

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