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Kingston Edmonds may see two fewer daily ferry runs

t Daily commuters are questioning proposal.

KINGSTON — Daily commuters aboard Kingston/Edmonds ferries this week say next year’s schedule changes proposed for the route aren’t well thought out. On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, Washington State Ferry (WSF) personnel onboard Kingston/Edmonds vessels handed out flyers warning of schedule changes that take place Jan. 4.

“I was surprised by them. It’s going to affect me pretty bad and add another half hour to my commute,” said Poulsbo resident Luis Barrantes, who received a flyer Tuesday morning on his way to work in Shoreline. “I know that they do have some issues with Edmonds and the train. The bottom line for me is I’m not sure if they analyzed the fix or if this is just a knee-jerk reaction. From what I’ve gathered, there’s not a lot of studying to see if this will actually help them.”

The changes, which shift several departing times between five and 15 minutes and cut two daily roundtrip runs from the route, were proposed by WSF officials to help reach better On Time Performance (OTP) levels, said Dave Remagen, WSF service planning manager.

Walt Elliott, a member of the Kingston Ferry Advisory Board, said in a time period of 13 days this summer, the Kingston route was on time only three days after 10 a.m.

“The on-time performance levels declining are related to a number of issues,” Remagen said. “There is more ship traffic crossing to Seattle, Tacoma and other ports and we go across that traffic, which we have to maneuver around and that adds time.”

Remagen’s other cited reasons included:

• An increased number of vehicles on the route created longer loading and offloading times;

• Changes in security sweep mandates take more time before vehicles and passengers can load; and

• An increased number of unscheduled freight trains passing through Edmonds increases dock time.

“We have no control over the train traffic,” Remagen said. “There are scheduled trains like Amtrak and we know when they run. Freight trains are random and there’s more lately than there used to be.”

The problems Remagen linked to declining OTP — such as increased ship and train traffic — aren’t controllable by WSF schedule changes. However, by increasing the time allotted for certain runs, a time cushion pads for better OTP.

In looking at ways to create a better, more efficient Kingston/Edmonds route, Remagen said WSF looked into coordinating with other modes of transportation commuters use such as the Sounder Train, which takes passengers to downtown Seattle, and area transit agencies.

With the new proposed schedule, Remagen said three ferries leaving from Kingston — a 5:40 a.m., 6:10 a.m. and 7:05 a.m. — would meet up with Sounder Trains in Edmonds. Those wanting to catch the Sounder train in the morning will only have a 10-15 minute wait Remagen said.

Three evening ferry runs, a 4:45 p.m, 5:20 p.m. and 6:15p.m., also correspond with the Sounder Train.

Speculation that they are also trying to slow boats down for fuel savings were confirmed.

“There will be trips identified to run at a slower time to save fuel,” Remagen said, although he said he wasn’t sure how much it would save.

Paul Lundy, another member of Kingston Ferry Advisory Committee, also commutes via the Kingston/Edmonds route to Seattle every day.

“The initial impression of the schedule changes is not good,” he said. “I think they really want to give people the reliability Bainbridge Island folks have and I know that the Kingston/Edmonds route doesn’t have that today.”

To make for a route that suits commuters and the ferries, Lundy said it’s going to take a lot of effort and push to allocate necessary money from the ferry funders, Washington Department of Transportation.

“It’s tough economic times and we all know legislature is going to have a tough time,” he said. “We know WSDOT money is there to allocate and it’s going to take some real guts of the people we are voting for to make this happen. It’s really going to take a combination of our own local officials and us as individuals to go to public hearings, take the time off work and stand up and be heard. An empty room speaks volumes.”

The Ferry Advisory Committees are established by Washington state law to give ferry riders and ferry communities representation to WSF, the Transportation Commission and legislature. The Kingston Ferry Advisory Committee is appointed by Commissioner Steve Bauer and meets at 6:30 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the month in the Kingston Community Center.

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