Opinion

Unfortunately, every ferry option is either unfeasible or unfair

The picturesque but not-altogether-practical foot ferry service between Port Orchard and Bremerton could ultimately wind up being an apt metaphor for the larger Washington State Ferries system.

The Port Orchard-Bremerton service, operated by Kitsap Transit, in December found itself the victim of rising costs and shrinking ridership, forcing the agency to eliminate Sunday service and a pair of evening runs on Saturday.

Understandably, this has sparked an effort to restore the service.

“I think that Port Orchard wants this,” said Port Orchard City Councilman Fred Chang, who organized a work-study session on Tuesday night at which different ideas and funding alternatives were discussed.

People wants lots of things they can’t afford, though, and any way you slice it, the funding options boil down to only two — either Kitsap Transit can raise fares high enough on the less-popular runs to make them pay for themselves, which doesn’t seem economically feasible, or it can find a way to shift the burden onto other riders or the taxpayers, which doesn’t seem fair.

Likewise, Washington State Ferries is also faced with the same difficult choice between raising its fares to prohibitive levels and finding a way to defer more of the cost to those who aren’t actually using the service.

Either unfeasible or unfair.

“From the city’s perspective we would love for (the foot ferry) to keep running,” Port Orchard Mayor Lary Coppola said. “(But) the Sunday foot ferry doesn’t generate enough money to pay for itself. If there was any way to keep this going, (Kitsap Transit) would have done it.”

As would WSF.

Unpalatable though the idea may be to some, Port Orchard-Bremerton passenger-only commuters, like ferry riders throughout the Puget Sound region, are likely soon to find out how much the service actually means to them and their neighbors in other parts of the state.

Only it’s not entirely clear they’ll like the answer.

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