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Could the new foot ferry give Kitsap County an economic kick as well?
That's one of the hopes of the service, which officially started Monday, and connects commuters between Bremerton and Seattle in 28 minutes, more than half the time of the current Washington State ferry.
"We've just brought the city of Seattle thirty minutes closer than it has been," says Michael Goodnow of the Downtown Bremerton Association. "Our restaurants will benefit," he says, and "it's going to be a good bump for real estate."
The commute time may, in fact, be a selling point in Kitsap County and a boost for Bremerton. Not long ago, during the depths of the recession in 2008, a Bremerton developer had to auction off waterfront condos due to lack of interest. Fast forward nearly a decade later, and the pendulum is swinging.
The massive growth in Seattle has pushed median home values up to $590,000, as of June, according to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. The same median home, in Kitsap County, is $335,000.
The fast ferry service was funded by a .3% sales tax increase, approved by voters in 2016. It has paid for the first round of service, using a low wake, 118 person catamaran. Kitsap Transit plans on similar service between Kingston and Seattle in 2018, and Southworth and Seattle in 2020.
The first few runs of the Bremerton service have been near capacity on the sailings to Seattle. Kitsap Transit is offering free rides for the rest of the month. After that, it'll cost $12 round trip.
Rod McDougal, who took the ferry on Tuesday, was impressed, "Coming over was only 28 minutes I couldn't believe it," he said, "It's wonderful."