July 21, 2017
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New Ferry Operations Unveiled on Both Coasts

Governor Welcomes Kitsap's New Ferry Service
In advance of the launch of Kitsap Transit’s Fast Ferry service between Bremerton, WA, and Seattle, Gov. Jay Inslee and Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA) were on hand to help celebrate the resumption of ferry service in the region for the first time in more than 10 years.

Inslee referred to the new service and the new passenger-only ferry, the Rich Passage I, as “the heart of maritime innovation in Kitsap County” and “one of the highest-tech ferries ever invented. It’s going to travel at 38 to 40 knots through Rich ­Passage [a tidal strait in Puget Sound] with ­minimal wake.”

Kilmer’s remarks focused on the partnership among Kitsap Transit, civic leaders, businesses and taxpayers to make sure “all oars are in the water, rowing in the same direction” on the ferry project, and on the impact the new service will have on county residents. “Today is progress for every family in Kitsap County who can now travel faster and easier. Today is progress for every person who needs to get to work or to go visit a doctor … This is a big deal and it took amazing work by a whole lot of people,” he said.

Gov. Jay Inslee rings in Kitsap Transit’s new ferry service with Rep. Derek Kilmer during preliminary ceremonies.

Washington State Ferries had provided ferry service to Bremerton until 2003, when property owners sued the state over damage to beaches they blamed on the state’s large ferries. As a result of the lawsuit and subsequent direction by the state legislature, Kitsap Transit assumed a federal wake-research grant from the state, developed a prototype research vessel and organized county leaders to support the effort.

“We are very pleased so many people rode on the first day of passenger service,” said Kitsap Transit Executive Director John Clauson, who talked with riders on opening day. Clauson noted that the one-way ferry trip takes 30 minutes and the agency plans to add two more destinations in coming years.

The agency welcomed opening-day passengers with a selection of branded promotional gifts.

He also recognized other supporters of the ferry effort, including the Kitsap Transit board, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), former Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA), state legislators and community officials and boosters.

“We still have a lot of work to do,” he said, “but it’s worth taking a moment to pause and say, ‘We did it.’”

HRT Celebrates Launch of Newest River Ferry
With blasts of confetti cannons, Hampton Roads Transit (HRT), Hampton, VA, christened its newest Elizabeth River ferry (with a bottle of sparkling water), Elizabeth River Ferry IV, in July 14 ceremonies attended by dignitaries and area residents.

“The Elizabeth River Ferry is the most convenient, enjoyable way to go from downtown Norfolk to Olde Towne Portsmouth and beyond,” said HRT President and Chief Executive Officer William Harrell. “Today, we have carried more than 10 million tourists and commuters for the 10-minute trip across the main stem of the Elizabeth River.”

HRT operates three 150-passenger ferries on the river between Norfolk and Portsmouth, running every half hour with 15-minute peak service on summer weekends.

HRT officials and guests welcome the Elizabeth River Ferry IV’s maiden voyage with confetti, speeches and a christening with a bottle of sparkling water.

Ferry ridership has surged in the last few months with more than 67,000 riders in June, approximately 22,000 more than June of last year. HRT attributed the growth to good weather and the recent opening of Norfolk’s Waterside District. Also, the city of Portsmouth has approved money to revitalize its Portside open-air entertainment site, possibly with construction of a 5,000-square-foot pavilion.

HRT purchased the new ferry as part of a $7 million grant to eventually replace the entire four-boat fleet and upgrade the docks the vessels use, one of the agency’s initiatives to reduce operating costs and improve the customer experience.

In addition to improved fuel efficiency and a cleaner-running set of Volvo engines, the Elizabeth River Ferry IV has a “drive-by-wire” design that relies far more on electronics than its predecessors. It also allows faster loading and unloading than the older ferries in the fleet, with two hatches instead of one each on the port and starboard sides.

HRT also explained that the three existing ferries—constructed in 1982, 1986 and 1990—are becoming too expensive to maintain, requiring continuous structural and mechanical repairs to keep them in compliance with U.S. Coast Guard regulations.

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