The majority of the general public’s non-automobile personal transportation trips are made by fixed-route public transit or what is known as regular transit service. Of the 252 million annual trips in the region, approximately 52 percent (129 million trips) are provided via the fixed-route network.
Fixed-route transit service is regularly scheduled service, which can be either a local bus, an express bus between cities or counties, commuter or light rail service or ferry service between cities across Puget Sound. Service is available to the general public with the payment of the appropriate fare.
The fixed-route refers to the fact that the service is consistently provided on a daily or weekly basis and at set hours along the same route. Figure 8 illustrates the existing fixed-route transit network and service that is provided by the six transit agencies and Washington State Ferries in the central Puget Sound region.
Parking Garage, Bike lockers, Ticket Vending Machines, Customer Information Office Vanshare Information
Sounder Commuter Rail, ST Express, Metro Transit
Parking Garage, Bike lockers and Ticket Vending Machines, Customer Information Office Vanshare Information
Sounder Commuter Rail, ST Express, Pierce Transit
Parking, Ticket Vending Machines, Vanshare Information
Sounder Commuter Rail, ST Express, Pierce Transit
Parking, Bike lockers, Ticket Vending Machines, pay phones
Tacoma Dome Station
Sounder Commuter Rail, Tacoma Link Light Rail, ST Express, Pierce Transit, Greyhound
Parking, Ticket Vending Machines, Bus Shops located in both North and South buildings
Union Station/S 19th
Tacoma Link, ST Express, Pierce Transit
Convention Center/S 15th
Theater District/S 9th
Table 5: “Regional T” Transfer Sites and Amenities
he six transit agencies in the Puget Sound region provide local services that transport passengers to and from various destinations within their service boundaries. This type of service is sufficient for those looking to get around their locality. However, local service may not serve the needs of individuals traveling longer distances, particularly commuters requiring reliable, efficient service to major employment centers outside the transit agencies’ service area. For this reason, many transit agencies also provide express or final destination services to major employment centers in the region, particularly downtown Seattle. One example of this type of service is Community Transit’s 402 commuter route, with limited-stop service from the Lynnwood park-and-ride to downtown Seattle. For those agencies unable to make a direct connection to larger employment centers, alternate arrangements can be made. For example, Kitsap Transit provides customers with vanpool connections from Colman Dock in Seattle, for the final leg of their daily commute to work in King County. While local transit agencies provide these express services, they cannot possibly handle the entirety of demand. For this reason Sound Transit, Puget Sound’s Regional Transit Authority, serves the general public with an emphasis on regional commuter service through Pierce, Snohomish and King counties.
Source: Sound Transit ound Transit contracts with Pierce Transit, King County Metro and Community Transit to provide two urbanized commuter routes, six intercity commuter routes, and 10 suburban intercity routes. They also operate Tacoma Link light rail, the 1.6-mile light rail line between Tacoma Dome Station at Freighthouse Square and the city’s historic Theater District. In addition, Sound Transit contracts with Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad to provide Sounder commuter rail between Seattle and Tacoma.
If leaving an agency’s service area is required or utilizing regional express service is not a viable option, one may be required to transfer between transit systems. The “Regional T” is a network of transit hubs and transfer sites developed by Sound Transit and adopted by the transit partnership including Sound Transit, King County Metro, Pierce Transit, Everett Transit, Community Transit, Amtrak, Washington State Ferries, and the Washington State Department of Transportation. These transfer sites have been recognized by the partner agencies as significant, and as such, provide important local and regional connections for the three eastern counties of the central Puget Sound region. The criteria used for designating a “Regional T” site included the following:
Regional Emphasis—regional connections to a variety of destinations
Multiple system transfer opportunities—opportunities to transfer between different providers/modes
Regional transportation information—offers a variety of regional transportation information, such as timetables
Center for local service connections
A wide variety of transit options and agencies exist on the east side of Puget Sound, which make mobility and connectivity relatively easy. Residents can access a wide variety of locations and services via the fixed-route network and “Regional T” sites provide safe and comfortable locations to transfer between service areas. For the most part, one can travel with fewer time constraints on the east side, compared to the west side in Kitsap County, where integrating trips with Washington State Ferries as well as other transit providers is a greater stress on the Kitsap Transit riders.
Kitsap Transit operates 44 fixed-route bus lines, as well as paratransit services for persons who are unable to use the fixed route due to age or a disabling condition. The Purdy Connection operates as a route deviation service, and connects passengers to Pierce Transit and Sound Transit at the Purdy park-and-ride. In addition, the agency operates passenger-only ferries between Bremerton and Port Orchard, and Bremerton and Annapolis. As described below in more detail, Kitsap Transit also provides extensive connections to the Washington State Ferry System.
The primary transfer centers and connecting services for Kitsap Transit are:
Connections with Jefferson Transit to Port Ludlow & Port Townsend
11 Kitsap Transit bus routes
Washington State Ferries
Kitsap Mall Transit Center
9 Kitsap Transit bus routes
Bremerton Transportation Center (Ferry Terminal)
10 Kitsap Transit bus routes
Passenger-only ferry Seattle/Bremerton
Connections with Mason Transit (from Shelton)
Washington State Ferries
Kitsap Transit Foot Ferries
Southworth Ferry Terminal
2 Kitsap Transit bus routes
Washington State ferries
Port Orchard Ferry Terminal
7 Kitsap Transit bus routes
Kitsap Transit Foot Ferry
The primary transfer facilities, located at Poulsbo Transit Center, Bainbridge Island, Bremerton Transportation Center, Port Orchard Ferry dock and Southworth Ferry Terminal, are for the most part well equipped with basic amenities, including a comfortable place to wait, restrooms, schedule and fare information, and good directional signage. However, improvements are envisioned for Poulsbo Transit Center, which is a temporary facility that requires improved shelter and restroom amenities.
Passenger-Only and Foot Ferries
In 2005, Kitsap Transit started a foot-passenger, cross-Sound ferry service. They have passenger-only ferry service between Bremerton and Seattle that operates weekdays during rush hour – four trips a day. It is run through a public/private Joint Development Agreement between Kitsap Transit and Kitsap Ferry Service. In 2005, the cross-Sound service had 107,757 passenger trips.
Kitsap Transit also contracts for the operation of a foot ferry that transports passengers between Bremerton and Annapolis, and Bremerton and Port Orchard. The foot ferry connects with transit routes at each end.
Kitsap Transit/Washington State Ferry Connections The Washington State Ferry system is of great importance to residents of Kitsap County. May it be work, commerce, or just for fun, there is great demand for cross-Sound travel. Kitsap Transit provides fixed-route connections to and from Washington State Ferry terminals supporting the following corridors:
Kingston - Edmonds
Bainbridge Island - Seattle
Bremerton - Seattle
For the most part, ferry service is available as early as 5:00 a.m. until 1:00 a.m., including weekends. To meet the demand for the early sailings, Kitsap Transit operates a deviated fixed-route service from east and west Bremerton to the Bremerton Ferry Terminal to connect with morning ferry service into Seattle. For the reverse commute, passengers simply use the regular fixed-route service. Kitsap Transit focuses much of its service delivery on connecting with the ferries, which provide passengers access to the mainland. During commuter hours, this means that a bus is “assigned” to meet a particular ferry, and will adjust its schedule as needed to ensure it provides that level of connectivity. Buses may also be redeployed to meet a ferry if it needs to use another docking facility.
The primary concern affecting connectivity is that reciprocal arrangements with the ferry system are not in place; that is, if a bus should be delayed from meeting the connecting ferry, the ferry may not wait. While such incidents are somewhat unlikely (estimated at once or twice per week), this lack of flexibility in connecting services can be extremely inconvenient for persons who may have to wait another hour or longer for the next ferry crossing.
Fixed-route transit provides the vast majority of public transportation trips. Service is generally on time and provides people with the necessary connections that allow them to go about their daily lives without the use of a private automobile. However, while the backbone of the public transportation system is fixed-route transit, it is not always available or may not meet special transportation needs.
ADA Complementary Paratransit Service
The following excerpt from Project Action, an organization funded through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Transportation Administration, succinctly states the present status of ADA paratransit service nationally and locally.
“The passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990 recognized that persons with disabilities have the same rights as other citizens to access services and facilities that are available to the public. Congress also recognized that many practical problems had to be solved in reaching the goal of equal accessibility in transit.
Table 7: Usage and Cost of ADA Paratransit Services
aratransit has proven to be a reliable and useful service for persons with disabilities and usage has grown beyond expectation, resulting in higher than anticipated costs. It remains a priority to address these issues by mainstreaming
persons with disabilities onto fixed-route transit, and to better coordinate ADA paratransit to reduce trip costs. Additionally, because approximately 70 percent of adults with disabilities are unemployed and receive public assistance, mobility issues related to welfare reform must be addressed along with mobility of persons with disabilities.”
I Sources: Community Transit, Everett Transit, King County Metro, Kitsap Transit, Pierce Transit
*Full compliance with ADA standards was not required until January 1997 n the greater Puget Sound region, costs associated with providing ADA paratransit service locally have grown substantially since the passage of the ADA.
Since ADA paratransit service is an unfunded mandate from the federal government, the cost and use of these services is of particular interest to the local community. This is especially true as most communities choose to enhance their ADA paratransit services to better fit the needs of the disability community. Even then it is recognized that the paratransit services provided by the transit agencies cannot meet all the transportation needs for people with disabilities, just as bus service doesn’t meet all the transportation needs of a community.
In particular, the following gaps are recognized:
Only those people who cannot ride the bus because of a disability are eligible: Since paratransit service mandated by ADA is only intended to serve those people who could not use a regular bus.
ADA requires paratransit service within a ¾ mile buffer on either side of a local fixed-route: So inter-regional service on Sound Transit, for example, does not provide ADA paratransit service. If there is no bus service, there is no paratransit service, which is the situation facing many rural communities in the Puget Sound region.
ADA paratransit service is only as good as bus service: Just as a person cannot have a bus come to their door at exactly the time they wish, and other riders will share the ride, paratransit service also has these limitations.
In most systems trips must be requested at least a day before the trip is needed: Spontaneous, same-day service is not available.
The very frail and the very confused have difficulty using ADA paratransit service since drivers are unable to give the level of personal assistance needed.
Transit agencies attempt to fill some of these gaps by providing services on their paratransit vans that go beyond ADA or by subsidizing local non-profits and for-profit providers who can fill the gaps.
As stated by Project Action, these locally funded public transit efforts still are not adequate to meet the needs of all persons in the community who have insufficient access to transportation.