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Transit cuts could impact island commuters

Bus service on Bainbridge could be affected by Kitsap Transit’s proposed cuts in the face of reduced revenue forecasts. -
Bus service on Bainbridge could be affected by Kitsap Transit’s proposed cuts in the face of reduced revenue forecasts.
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Facing a $4.5 million deficit in 2009, Kitsap Transit is proposing service cuts across the county, including several commuter routes serving Bainbridge Island.

The recommendations were made at Tuesday’s transit board meeting in Bremerton. A final decision will likely be made at the Dec. 16 board meeting, following a series of public hearings (see box for dates).

Service changes would take affect on Feb. 15, 2009.

Transit administrators are advising the elimination of several commuter buses servicing the 5:20 a.m. Bainbridge ferry.

Cuts would include one of the three Route 90 buses, which run from Poulsbo to the 5:20 a.m. Bainbridge ferry. The bus averages 19 passengers per day. Scaling back to two buses would save Kitsap Transit an estimated $11,831.

Kitsap Transit Executive Director Dick Hayes said Bainbridge stops would be absorbed into Route 91, which runs from Kingston to the island.

The eight island commuter buses serving the 5:20 ferry, excluding the combined 95/100 route, might be eliminated. The last commuter run of the day is also up for elimination. Cuts to the island commuter routes would save a combined $177,470.

Route 100, also known as the Winslow shuttle, has been on and off the chopping block for the last year. Hayes said it is likely that Kitsap Transit will scale back service on Route 100 during midday, when average ridership dips to eight people per hour.

Holiday schedules may be cut, which would save Kitsap Transit $156,903. Service to special events throughout the county could also be suspended, including the Rotary Auction and Fourth of July festivities on Bainbridge.

All told, the recommended county-wide cuts would save Kitsap Transit $2,192,376.

Fares for Access buses and van pools may be increased.

Service changes will be combined with reduction to staff and capital costs. A hiring freeze has already scaled back transit staff by 23 positions, through attrition. Another 11 layoffs, including 2.5 full-time positions in routed service and five in access service, are proposed.

The cuts proposed for February are likely not the last.

Hayes said Kitsap Transit will need to conduct a full assessment of its services to determine how it can transport passengers with fewer bus hours.

“I’m afraid I’m one of the people who thinks it is going to get worse, before it gets better,” Hayes said.

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