News

Transit plans not a problem for riders

KINGSTON — To John Clauson, the only concern residents seem to have about long-term Kitsap Transit service is that it not be cut.

The proposed increase in fares, the changing of the district boundaries and the fuel surcharges haven’t seemed to bother riders, said Clauson, KT’s service development director — they just want to make sure they have a bus to catch.

Kitsap Transit has been holding public meetings across the county recently to gather input on several changes the agency is proposing. Between the two meetings held in Kingston, Nov. 2 and Nov. 7, about 20 people showed up.

“The information we’re getting here is what will go into our development plans,” Clauson said.

The general consensus has been the same across the county — residents want more service on the weekends and during the midday, he said.

Proposed changes include fare increases, fuel surcharges and adjustments to the transit district boundary. Plans can be reviewed at www.kitsaptransit.org/News.html. A survey can be found at www.kitsaptransit.org/FareIncreaseSurvey.html.

The agency last reviewed its fare structure in 1997 and decided to look at it again, given the increasing cost of operations, including labor, health care and fuel.

For routed bus service, there are two options for regular service: increase fares from $1 to $1.25 during peak hours of 8:29 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and keep off-peak hours costs at $1, plus charge 25 cents for transfers on one-way trips; or implement a flat rate of $1.25 but keep the transfers free for one-way trips.

There are also similar changes proposed for ACCESS service, which serves disabled and senior riders, and worker/driver service, which serves the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. Vanpool riders will also notice a change in the cost to this particular service.

The fare changes are expected to take place in February 2006, following public meetings and hearings.

Clauson explained that fuel surcharges of 25 cents per trip for cash fares or $5 per month for passes may have to be implemented, on top of the fare increases.

“We’re only implementing it if the fuel stays as high as it is or higher for six months or longer,” he said.

The agency is also seeking input from riders on how it can improve service. The common theme has been providing service on weekends, such as from Kingston to Poulsbo and to not reduce service during the week.

But if ridership is low, it’s difficult to justify service, Clauson added.

One example is Hansville, as KT has been struggling to increase ridership there, Clauson explained. He went to the community earlier this year for input.

“We came up with a scheme and it still wasn’t enough,” he said.

In regards to reducing district size, the agency has proposed to go from serving the entire county to just serving the high density areas, from Kingston to just south of Port Orchard, thus cutting Hansville. If routed service was eliminated, the vanpools, worker/driver and ACCESS services would still be available to the area, Clauson said.

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