Beginning on Monday, Kitsap Transit will be expanding its Bremerton–Seattle fast ferry service to 24 daily sailings on weekdays. The arrival of a new vessel on the route during peak trips will allow for a frequency boost to 30-45 minutes and non-reserved sailings.
The Rich Passage 1, which launched the fast ferry service in 2017, will remain on its normal schedule. The new trips will be operated on one of the two new catamarans that Kitsap Transit acquired last year: M/V Reliance and Lady Swift. All three boats can carry 118 passengers and take about 30 minutes to make the full sailing from Bremerton to Pier 50 in Seattle.
The new sailings, which total four round trips per day, will not use the reservation system in place for Kitsap Fast Ferries. Instead, all boardings will be done via walk-ups on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Kitsap Transit is limited to an unspecified number of sailings per week based on the impact of the vessels on the beaches of Rich Passage. Complaints and litigation from homeowners along Rich Passage caused Washington State Ferries to abandon its fast passenger ferry program in 2003 after a court-ordered slowdown. According to the Kitsap Sun, Kitsap Transit is looking at using its remaining sailing slots to add later service on Friday nights.
The Bremerton fast ferry route carried over 301,500 passengers in 2019, averaging over 25,000 per month. Ridership grew by 7 percent from 2018, despite service disruptions caused by moving to the permanent passenger facility at Colman Dock. Kitsap Transit still plans to expand fast ferry service to Southworth (near Port Orchard) later this year, pending a schedule agreement with the state to share the terminal there.