Kitsap Transit Sees 33% Annual Increase in Ferry Ridership

Image: Kitsap Transit.

More than 1 million passengers rode Kitsap Transit ferries in 2023, a 33% increase from the previous year, the transit agency announced Jan. 5.

The gains in ridership stemmed from its three “cross-sound fast ferry routes” to and from the Kitsap Peninsula and downtown Seattle, with the Bremerton/Seattle route showing a 54% jump from 2022, Kitsap said.

The Kingston/Seattle route showed a 37% spike in ridership, while ridership rose by 49% on the Southworth/Seattle route, with average passenger loads per sailing rising 35% on the Kingston service and soaring 41% on the Southworth service, the agency said.

“We are proud of the dedication our ferry crews, mechanics and shoreside ambassadors demonstrate day in and day out in operating our service safely on the marine highways while maintaining an excellent record of reliability,” Kitsap Transit Executive Director John Clauson said. “And we’re able to offer the public reliable transport to and from the ferry terminals thanks to the dedication of our bus operators and the people who support them.”

The Bremerton Fast Ferry service started in Summer 2017 with the help of a voter-approved sales tax measure, which helps pay for three passenger-only ferry routes linking Bremerton, Kingston and Southworth to downtown Seattle.

In November 2018, the agency started the fast-ferry service on the Kingston/Seattle route, then the Southworth/Seattle route in March 2021. In December 2022, the agency added 14 weekday and 14 Saturday sailings on the Bremerton/Seattle route on a temporary basis until Washington State Ferries could bring back its two-boat service.

By Karen Robes Meeks