Clallam Transit approves ‘Strait Shot’ bus service to Bainbridge ferry terminal

Clallam Transit General Manager Wendy Clark-Getzin

Clallam Transit has approved a daily bus service from downtown Port Angeles to the Bainbridge Island ferry terminal.

Transit board members voted 8-0 March 20 to approve the No. 123 “Strait Shot” route after a public hearing in Forks.

The 75-mile, transfer-free service will begin June 18.

It will cost $10 for adults to ride the Strait Shot one way. The cost will be $5 for youths, Clallam Transit pass holders, Peninsula College students and anyone with a Regional Reduced Fare Permit.

“We are all excited,” Clallam Transit General Manager Wendy Clark-Getzin said after the meeting.

“There was overwhelming support and optimism that we are going to be very successful.”

The 39-seat commuter bus will make two trips to Bainbridge Island and back on weekdays and Saturdays and one trip on Sundays.

The wheelchair-accessible bus will leave the Port Angeles Gateway Transit Center at 7:25 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. weekdays, 7:30 a.m. and 4:15 p.m. Saturdays and 3:15 p.m. Sundays.

Return trips will leave the Bainbridge Island ferry terminal at 10:20 a.m. and 8:10 p.m. weekdays, 10:20 a.m. and 7:10 p.m. Saturdays and 6:15 p.m. Sundays.

The bus will make quick stops in Sequim, Blyn, Discovery Bay, Poulsbo and Agate Pass. The cost will be the same — $10 or $5 — at each stop.

Clallam Transit operations manager Steve Hopkins designed the Strait Shot schedule to avoid rush-hour traffic on state Highway 305 through Poulsbo and Bainbridge Island and peak congestion from Seattle commuters unloading at the state ferry terminal.

The scheduled drive time will be two hours or less, depending on the specific run.

Clallam Transit received 146 comments about the proposal though its general email and eight verbal comments at the hearing.

“Consistently the responses are in favor of it,” said Bill Peach, Clallam Transit board member and county commissioner.

Peach and other voting members of the Clallam Transit board cleared the way the new service in separate resolutions approving the service change, amending the fare structure and adopting a policy for out-of-boundary fare setting.

“We had a wonderful group of public testifiers,” Clark-Getzin said.

“There was a couple that came all the way out from Port Angeles to be seen and heard. They were speaking in terms of commuters.”

One of the speakers said he would use the Strait Shot to commute from Clallam County to the Bellevue area, Peach said.

The No. 123 bus will have reclining seats, reading lights and overhead storage space, transit officials said.

An optimistic concern expressed at the hearing was that the Sunday bus would be overcrowded, Peach said.

“If they’re seeing that kind of use, then the game plan is to have a second bus (on Sundays),” Peach said.

Transit officials will monitor ridership on the Strait Shot for the next nine months to a year and adjust fares and schedules if necessary.

Clallam Transit designed the Strait Shot fares to recover 100 percent of the operating cost, Clark-Getzin said.

To get from Port Angeles to Bainbridge Island on public transportation now, a traveler must transfer to a different bus in Sequim, Port Townsend and Poulsbo.

Olympic Bus Lines provides twice-daily trips from The Gateway to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport via the Edmonds-Kingston ferry, with stops at Seattle hospitals and the Greyhound and Amtrak stations. The trip to the airport on the Dungeness Line is $49 for adults and $25 for youths.

Rocket Transportation provides door-to-door shuttle service to the Seattle area.

The Strait Shot will be the first out-of-boundary service that Clallam Transit has offered since the public transportation agency was formed in 1979, Clark-Getzin said.

“It’s a really good project and it stands out,” Peach said.

Rob Ollikainen is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. He can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.