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UPDATE | Bainbridge wants to move taxis at ferry terminal

Taxis wait at the front of the ferry terminal entrance for commuters. The drive-up in front of the terminal is reserved for cabs and shuttles. - Richard D. Oxley / Bainbridge Island Review
Taxis wait at the front of the ferry terminal entrance for commuters. The drive-up in front of the terminal is reserved for cabs and shuttles.
— image credit: Richard D. Oxley / Bainbridge Island Review

People stepping off the Bainbridge Island ferry may not find a taxi waiting outside the terminal’s door if the city has its way.

Councilwoman Kirsten Hytopoulos would like the terminal entrance reconfigured and the taxi stand moved somewhere else. The idea is to open up the cramped stretch of driveway to islanders dropping off and picking up riders.

Responding to mounting community frustration over the drive-up situation, Hytopoulos presented a proposed letter to Washington State Ferries at the council’s Wednesday meeting that asks the state to relocate the parking for taxicabs and the casino shuttle bus.

“For as long as that situation has existed, the citizens of the island have been frustrated that we don’t have access to the front of the terminal,” Hytopoulos said earlier.

“This is along the lines of what the citizens have been asking for. There is no legal place to stop that is sensible,” she said.

The driveway in front of the busy terminal can be a challenging gauntlet for drivers to navigate as hundreds of passengers depart the terminal and make their way to their parked cars nearby. The area currently reserved for taxis includes space for two or three cabs, and the city is not offering any suggestions on where the taxi stand should be placed in the future.

The Bainbridge-Seattle route is the busiest one in the WSF system for foot traffic; the agency’s last quarterly report shows that from April through June, the ferry run carried 1.5 million passengers, and 738,708 were on foot.

The drive-up and taxi zone, however, is only one of two entrances for vehicles to the terminal. Kitsap Transit uses the other entrance for its buses, leaving the question: Where are the taxis supposed to go?

Hytopoulos said a solution could be found, if only the search for a fix would start.

“I don’t care where they move it, they could reconfigure all sorts of things,” Hytopoulos said. “We are just requesting that they find some other configuration.”

Complaints over drivers’ access to the terminal prompted Hytopoulos to take notice.

“There was a flurry of emails and posts on Island Moms around six months ago,” Hytopoulos said. “It brought up the question of where are people supposed to drop off kids, the elderly and just anyone.”

A legitimate drop-off zone needs to be established, she said.

“When you have out-of-town guests who don’t even know the area, how do you let them know you are there?” Hytopoulos asked.

Heron Forester, a taxi driver at the Bainbridge terminal, said there is nowhere else for them to pick up ferry commuters.

“They wouldn’t be taking it away from just us, but the community,” Forester said.

“I’m sorry to hear that it’s even a topic,” he said.

The city’s draft letter to WSF also asks that the disabled parking spots in the area be preserved where they are.

The council voted 4-2 Wednesday to send the letter to WSF; Councilman David Ward and Councilwoman Sarah Blossom voted in the minority.

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