Aqua Express seeks public opinion on POFs

KINGSTON — The new players in Kitsap County’s passenger-only ferry arena want to hear from the public they plan to serve.

Aqua Express, which is hoping to establish a Kingston-Seattle passenger-only run this year, is currently distributing surveys to residents, businesses and bus riders to attain their views on foot ferries.

Aqua Express partner Darrell Bryan said the North End was surveyed about six years ago regarding the ferries and that this current survey will revisit what type of service residents would like.

“We decided some time has passed, let’s update (the survey) and see if this presumption we made still exists,” Bryan said.

Aqua Express, which is made up of several major regional ferry companies — Clipper Navigation, Argosy Cruises, Nichols Brothers Boat Builders, and Four Seasons Tours — proposed establishing a fast ferry service from Kingston to Seattle after Kitsap Transit’s proposal was rejected by voters last November.

About 300 surveys were sent to those who responded six years ago and another 200 were sent to the Kingston Chamber of Commerce for distribution to local businesses, such as Kingston Lumber, the Coffee Exchange and J’aime Les Crepes.

About 1,000 additional surveys were sent to Kitsap Transit for placement on buses that travel to Bainbridge Island and Kingston.

“One thing on the Kitsap side that is so important is the relationship with Kitsap Transit,” Bryan said. “They are really a key for getting people from a remote parking location to a ferry dock.”

The survey asks residents what they would pay for the service, their preferred departure times and how they are currently getting to and from the Kingston and Bainbridge ferry docks.

If Kitsap Transit gives its OK this week for Aqua Express to establish a commuter run, the ferry agency will then use the survey results to support its application to the Washington State Utilities and Transportation Commission. Aqua Express must receive approval from the UTC to establish the Kingston-Seattle run.

Aside from the surveys, Aqua Express officials will also visit different community groups next month to talk about what they plan to provide.

The survey is to “confirm the presumptions we made on the first go around,” Bryan said.

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