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typical Jefferson Transit bus arriving at Poulsbo
Jefferson Transit bus Arrives at Poulsbo, by Glenn Laubaugh (“Glenn in Portland”)

Back in September I promised that eventually I would tell how I managed to get to Port Townsend by transit. The original post had to do with my first experience with Island Transit by using it as part of a Port Townsend to Seattle trip. I didn’t include my trip getting to Port Townsend since that wasn’t relevant to Island Transit. So, here is the first part of that trip:

On weekdays it so happens that a day trip to Port Townsend isn’t too hard from downtown Seattle, so long as you plan ahead of time and understand how long you will be on the bus. It is also important to realize that the series of connections I describe here only work about four or so times per weekday. Saturdays are impractical due to the Kitsap Transit route not starting service until 10:40 am and Sundays are impossible due to no transit service. At one time it was possible to use Island Transit #1 to get from the Mukilteo-Clinton ferry to Fort Casey State Park on Saturdays (the route was different on Saturdays, and combined the #1 and #6 into a single route), thus making that a possible route to Port Townsend on Saturdays. Island Transit no longer operates on Saturdays so that option is gone too.

As I was staying in Magnolia my trip started on the very first King County Metro 33 of the day. This arrived uphill from the ferry terminal at very close to 6 in the morning, and I hurried down the hill to make sure I got to the Bainbridge Island ferry before it departed at a bit past six.

I need not have worried too much. There were a huge number of passengers exiting the ferry, but only a few of us getting on. I had about a five minute wait before they even opened the boarding gates.

Once on the other side of the water, you have to find Kitsap Transit #90 to Poulsbo. The problem is there were four different route 90 buses that arrived at the Bainbridge Ferry terminal at the same time to connect with the ferry, and only one of those was a return trip to Poulsbo. I had to ask two different drivers and getting “I don’t go back there but I think *that* is the bus you need” before getting the correct bus.

The ferry terminal here is the last rest stop for the next hour and a half.

Once it left the Winslow area, #90 moved along pretty good, and Poulsbo’s transit center was only about 20 minutes away.

After a little bit of a wait, Jefferson Transit #7 arrived for the final link of the trip. As the transit center is right beside the highway, once the bus left the transit center it also moved along quite well until after it crossed the Hood Canal Bridge, after which there were a couple of sprawl housing developments it served on its way north. Several people got on at each one. The bus rolled into the Port Townsend Transit Center just a bit before 8:30 in the morning and by then was comfortably occupied.

The way Jefferson Transit operates is that they have several routes that make loops through various parts outside of downtown as well as make a few runs to more distant places, but they are organized so that each of those combines to make a loop through downtown Port Townsend once every half hour as bus route #11, and connect to other routes at the transit center south of downtown at the start and end of each loop. Half of those downtown loops are clockwise and half are counterclockwise.

I waited on the bus a few minutes, the bus driver changed the route number, and we continued into downtown Port Townsend and I got off just after 8:30 am, with the total trip time from downtown Seattle about 2 1/2 hours.

As there were very few of us getting on the ferry in downtown Seattle, I actually recognized a few of my fellow passengers. At least 4 or 5 others had made the trek from downtown Seattle all the way out to Port Townsend using this series of connections.

In Port Townsend

This is a small enough community you really don’t need a car to get around downtown, and in some ways it is actually a hinderance since the old downtown is really best explored on foot. In fact, I met several tourists that complained about not being able to find a place to eat because they were trying to do so from their car and missed all the restaurant signs.

If you run out of stuff to do in Port Townsend itself, it is possible to take route #2 out to Fort Worden State Park.

Making This Trip Today

Today, making this trip hasn’t changed much from 2010. Schedules have been adjusted by a few minutes here and there. My first stop in Port Townsend was for breakfast at the Water Street Creperie which is apparently now closed, so I would need a new breakfast spot. I think the loop arrangement may have changed so that it may be necessary to transfer at the Port Townsend transit center to make the loop through the town proper, but you’d best ask the #7 driver. The trip is slightly more expensive now:

$8 for the ferry, good for both directions

$2 each way for Kitsap Transit cash fare (not including possible ORCA transfer discount)

$1.50 cash for a Jefferson Transit Day Pass

$1.00 cash out of county boarding charge for boarding Jefferson Transit at Poulsbo

Total round trip transit cost for downtown Seattle to Port Townsend and back is therefore $14.50.

Driving today, this trip would cost about $22 in round trip ferry fees alone at the smallest vehicle charge, and require a fair amount of waiting in the ferry queue.

Return to Seattle

As noted in my initial post, the method I used to return to Seattle involved Island Transit and an express bus on I-5. You can reverse the trip described above if you leave Port Townsend at either a bit after 3 pm or a bit after 5 pm. The exact time will depend on where you are on the downtown Port Townsend loop or if you walk to the transit center on the south side of town. If you miss the 6:30 pm Kitsap #90 back to Winslow (or want a brief stop in Poulsbo) there is currently one last bus to Winslow from Poulsbo at 7:30 pm.

Glenn Laubaugh (“Glenn in Portland”) is employed in a wide variety of positions at a very small company in Portland that manufactures electrical equipment for railroad passenger cars. Typical commute: TriMet #10, but may also be seen on #14, MAX Green Line and other routes.

6 Replies to “To Port Townsend by Transit”

    1. I did think about mentioning that, but I was already at nearly 1,000 words. It also requires an overnight stay from Seattle due to the first westbound trip being at 12:45 pm. However, they do at least operate on weekends.

    1. From yor end of the world, it is unfortunate that Island Transit no longer runs that nice Saturday version of their route 1 that served both ferries.

  1. There are a handful of people who do the reverse trip as their daily commute; catching the 6:00 AM #7 run will get you into a downtown office by 8:45 or so, and there are timed return trips for the 3:45 and 5:30 ferries.

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