Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The water shuttle: facts and myths

The water shuttle between South Point and Lofall gives you another way to get around when the Hood Canal Bridge closes for six weeks on May 1, providing the least expensive and most direct route to their destinations between Kitsap County and the north Olympic Peninsula.

It won’t be simple though. Most of us have a routine we follow five days a week, wake at 5:45, feed the kids, the pets, shower, scarf down some breakfast while taking the kids to school and then it’s off to an eight-hour stretch at work.

When the bridge closes and if you plan on taking the water shuttle/transit option as opposed to the much longer US 101 route, you should definitely know the facts because your routine will change – dramatically. Schedules for the water shuttle and connecting transit services can be found at http://www.hoodcanalbridge.com/.

The old bus commuter adage, “If you’re late, you wait” will still hold true. I have yet to have a missed ferry turn around to get me on the trip between Bainbridge Island and Seattle – not that I haven’t tried.

That said, here's what you need to know:
  • The water shuttle is primarily a commuter service, and meant to save people who must get to and from work five days a week the time and expense of driving around.
  • The water shuttle won’t be a delivery service. The water shuttle won't be used as to haul packages and dollies to businesses on the Olympic Peninsula.
  • If you need a bag, pack light. Passenger luggage will be limited to carry-on items.
  • Only service animals and those in pet carriers will be allowed on the water shuttle and buses.
  • The water shuttle will only take five bikes at a time and transit can only accommodate three bikes per trip.
  • For safety reasons, bicyclists won't be allowed to bike to and from the water shuttle docks. Cyclists in Jefferson County won't be allowed to bike to the park and ride at Shine Pit -- and will instead board a bus at the Gateway Visitors Center. In Kitsap County, bikers can ride to the Port Gamble park and ride and catch a bus to the water shuttle dock from there.
  • It's recommended that you wear comfortable shoes with good traction to board the water shuttles.

So what other questions do you have about this service?

5 comments:

mpollack said...

Thanks for the important comments regarding limited space. Much like traveling on an airliner these days, the water shuttle/buses cannot accommodate more than a small under-seat bag and perhaps a small day pack that will have to be held on the passenger's lap.

A clarification regarding bikes: Each transit bus can hold 2 or 3 bikes. However, several buses may drop off bikes for a single water shuttle crossing. The "pinch point" will be the 5-bike limit on each water shuttle. Bicyclists may experience delays getting their bike across the Hood Canal.

Cal & Linda said...

Kitsap Transit's customer service tells me they will not be providing the tranportation service on busses in Kitsap. They said it will be someone else they don't know who.

My office is a half blog from a regular transit stop near Kingston. Will the busses to Kingston stop or are they direct to the ferry dock?

irwinj@wsdot.wa.gov said...

That's correct Mike. The water shuttle/transit system is more of a commuter service. Bicyclists, especially those traveling in groups, will definitely experience this "pinch point" on the water shuttle.

irwinj@wsdot.wa.gov said...

Unfortunately, Kitsap Transit will not be assisting in transporting riders between Lofall, Port Gamble, Kingston, Poulsbo, Silverdale and Bainbridge Island during the six-week bridge closure.

I double-checked on whether the change from KT -- most likely to a private bus provider -- will affect the express service between Lofall and Kingston.

The route will continue as an express run, meaning there won't be any stops between the water shuttle dock and the ferry terminal.

If you're working near Kitsap Transit's current stop at Kountry Korners, you might want to look into using the Port Gamble Park and Ride or arranging a ride from downtown Kingston to your work.

I hope this helps.

Joyce said...

I have a question I haven't seen answered or I just missed it. We live in Port Ludlow. Can I drop my husband off at the boat and pick him up so he doesn't have to ride the bus?