Kitsap Transit

Bremerton is finishing up a plan to upgrade the pedestrian, bike, and transit facilities along the State Route 303 corridor, which connects Central Bremerton with its northern reaches.

Today, SR 303 is a “commute corridor”, in the words of Mayor Greg Wheeler, but he wants to “give our city priority” by giving “walkers, bicycles, and public transit equal access.”

This process has produced a “preliminary preferred alternative” that has several features:

  • Transit signal priority at seven intersections, including two downtown
  • Roundabouts replacing a few intersections
  • 10 foot sidewalks north of the bridge
  • Bike improvements
  • A business access and transit (BAT) lane northbound from Callahan to Hollis St. This lane replaces a left-turn lane in the center roadway.

There are four Kitsap Transit routes in this corridor now. The 215, 217, and 301 start at the ferry, and run to roughly the city limit, Silverdale, and Poulsbo respectively. The 219 runs from the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard to the city line.

PSRC’s Vision 2050 document suggests BRT operating between Silverdale and Bremerton, and the preferred alternative is largely driven by advice from Kitsap Transit on what would make BRT in Bremerton successful.

Steffani Lillie of Kitsap Transit says that rolling out BRT “requires population increases in our area to truly support it.” In the preliminary, unfunded concept, a single route would serve SR303 between Silverdale and Bremerton, with other legs including Silverdale-Poulsbo and Tremont St. in Port Orchard. Given sufficient density, KT would target 20 minute headways. Span of service and branding are not yet determined. KT recently completed two transit centers (North Viking and Wheaton Way) that support level boarding and have the conduits in place for off board payment. The Silverdale Transit Center may begin construction as early as next year.

When the city finalizes the plan in October, it will start to look for funding to make it a reality. Project Manager Katie Ketterer says the city will “pull out all the stops” to pursue grants and partnerships with Kitsap Transit, and probably execute in phases. You can comment this project here.

39 Replies to “Bremerton contemplates BRT”

  1. I looked into transit in the Bremerton area once, but ended up not taking it for the following reasons:

    1) frequency stinks
    2) schedules are not timed well with the ferries. Connections between a bus that runs every 60 minutes and a ferry that runs every 70 minutes are nearly guaranteed to be awful.
    3) The Bremerton ferry doesn’t have a lot of bus options. To get to most places, you have to first ride a bus 1 mile from the ferry to downtown Bremerton, then wait again for another bus. Then, at the west end of Bremerton, you have to transfer again to get further.

    I ended up taking my bike on the ferry instead.

    To be fair, I only looked at the Saturday schedule, and this was several years ago. Maybe it’s better during rush hour for those headed to the ferry in the morning and away in the evening. But, it was a bit disappointment. I wish Kitsap Transit would run their buses more often, rather than spending their most of their money on passenger ferries, which are largely redundant with the car ferries.

    1. If it’s like Bainbridge, and I don’t know why it wouldn’t be, the service is structured entirely around servicing the ferry rush M-F. Buses more or less don’t exist during the weekend on Bainbridge.

      1. Bremerton is very different. Bainbridge is a bedroom community with a tourist oriented downtown. Bremerton is a real city with a ton of Federal jobs and a working downtown with a community college and a hospital along the proposed alignment.

      2. Kitsap Transit’s BI Ride does operate 9-6 on Saturdays on the Island. In addition to meeting the ferries, it also makes connections to the 390 at BITC. Feel free to call Kitsap Transit for information. BI Ride is a Dial-A-Ride service.

    2. almost all of Bremerton Bus service serves the ferry dock. So i’m not sure what schedules you were looking at or when?

    3. If you had read the article you would know that at least three buses — those which go up 303 — go right by the ferry terminal.

      But reading jus delays commenting. Amirite?

    4. Weekdays have ferry take home buses on most routes. Weekends are fucking balls, with minimal service Sunday, and heaven forbid you take the fast ferry where there is basically zero transit coordination, though it’s run by Kitsap transit, the same agency that runs the buses. Transit in Bremerton is a disgrace, and is either designed for wsf ferry commuters or for people who have no other options.

  2. If you are running the bus every 20 minutes, it isn’t BRT.

    In general, this is a good example of why most of the country just needs more frequent buses. Some of these improvements seem fairly cheap, and worth it. But when the goal of your flagship bus line is to run every 20 minutes, your service levels are inadequate.

    1. At least from the perspective of a visitor, having the buses run more often than the ferries they connect to doesn’t add that much value. Having the schedules coordinated so that ferry->bus connections require minimal waiting adds a lot of value. So would having the bus serving the ferry run all the way to Silverdale, rather than having to make two connections.

      Of course, from the perspective of a local who isn’t riding the ferry, you value 20 minute local service a lot, even if the ferry itself doesn’t run that often. So, it depends what the objective is.

      1. Kitsap Transit route 301 between Poulsbo/Silverdale/Bremerton does coordinate service with the passenger ferries.

      2. As I said, my research was several years old. Looks like they’ve improved things since.

    2. This route could still get a bronze level! Service is only 19% of the ‘official’ standard, and they could still get a few points unrelated to frequency. It’s a great start, and investing in the BRT basics (alignment, ROW & priority, station access) upfront and then ramping up frequency over time is a good approach. Skimming the quotes and documents, everyone seems in agreement that the corridor needs growth & density to support ‘real’ BRT. If anything, I commend them for investing in BAT lanes and signal priority well before there is density, as it’s easier to get people to mode shift when they move, rather than to change an existing trip.

      Also, this is a corridor study. The actual frequency could easily improve with a future KT levy.

      1. Last I checked, to be considered BRT at all your bus lane needs to be protected from turning movements, and bus lanes on the outside of a two-way road doesn’t cut it. Even Swift falls short on that standard, though RR G on Madison might make it with its buses running in the median. Probably not worth it to put in that level of investment for a bus that only runs every 20 minutes, especially dealing with WSDOMA.

    3. Curiously, the only place I find references to “BRT” is in this post. All of the things I’ve reviewed on the project site talk about things like BAT lanes and high capacity transit, but never “BRT”.

      I may have missed a reference, but I can’t find anything in the project documents that actually is discussing BRT in a prominent way. I think Martin should change the post title.

  3. Over the last year, I’ve averaged about 2 trips to Bremerton a month and I’m now pretty familiar with the study area. I think there’s a good possibility that BRT along SR 303 would be successful as long as Kitsap county decides to focus affordable housing creation along the corridor (as pointed out in the post). There certainly is plenty of developable land along SR 303. Real estate prices in Bremerton aren’t as high as Bainbridge Island which could help spur the creation of more affordable housing. Bremerton currently has a much more middle class and diverse population than the rest of Kitsap Transit’s coverage area.

    Olympic College would also be a major source of ridership. Currently OC is a prototypical auto-oriented educational institution similar to Lake Washington Voc-Tech. But a frequent BRT line might change that dynamic.

    The passenger ferries plus frequent BRT service might also open up Bremerton to more people who would be willing to consider living in Bremerton and working in Seattle. The crossing on WSF takes almost 60 minutes; the passenger ferries from Bremerton can do the trip in 30 minutes.

  4. It’s a bit unclear to me but if each leg is 20 minutes, the overlapping frequency would be much more? Or, you’d try to align multiple routes with the ferry schedule?

  5. Since gym closed I have taken to long runs through downtown Bremerton and environs. Warren Avenue it about the worst pedestrian street you could imagine, almost as bad as Aurora. Except very narrow sidewalks overgrown with untrimmed plantings. For wheel chairs, pedestrians, and bicycles the bridge is the worst. Extra wide lanes encourage high speed illegal driving. Street noise leaves one’s ears ringing. Two wheel chairs meeting is a total nightmare. One will have to back up hundreds of feet to the closest end of the bridge. Warren is the only north/south through street in the area. I have my work-arounds. Burwell and 11th Streets are horrible for pedestrians, but the side streets allow avoiding them for the most part. I am impressed by the proposals. They address most of the issues I experience both as a driver and as a pedestrian.

  6. the city project is very positive. the RossB comments are sound. a key aspect to BRT is service frequency. if the city does not use the term BRT, then it would be good for STB to change its headline.

    BRT is the cohesive melding of transit service and capital. some on this blog have asserted that RR is not “real” BRT, as it is not grade separated as the lines in Latin America or the LA Orange line are. RR is better service than before and along a BRT continuum that depends on the level of priority through traffic it is provided. Consider the power of Route 99B in Vancouver; it has great frequency and little grade separation. Great capital without short waits would not be real BRT either. think of LRT; it is a continuum between streetcars and Link depending on the degree of grade separation and frequency. sometimes BRT evolves over time; the roots of the E Line were in February 1999 with the Aurora consolidation.

    1. BRT has proved to be such a vague term that it’s useless to argue what is or isn’t BRT. It’s better to focus on sublevels like Bronze, Silver, and Gold, which were defined because of this dilemma.

      Looking at the broad historical perspective, there’s a distinction between grade-separated transit and mixed-traffic transit. The London and New York subways and els were built to move large numbers of people at a speed competitive to driving and without the impacts of level crossings (on both passengers and surrounding residents and drivers). Curitiba, Brazil, decided to do something like this with buses. It’s not grade-separated but it has exclusive lanes, transit priority at crossings, high-volume operations (high frequency, long vehicles, and large stations), and limited stops. The term “BRT” was coined to describe this and the Latin American networks that imitated it. Coming to the US, the closest comparison is some of the freeway bus lines in Los Angeles.

      Historic subways and commuter rail were also grade-separated, either being underground/elevated or with signal pre-emption or over/underpasses. Alongside them were streetcars, which in some places had superior right of way in center lanes. and in other places suffered mixed traffic and stoplights. The term “light rail” was coined to refer to something between these two. It originally meant a light metro, something convertable to a fill metro in the future, with either grade separation or exclusive lanes/signal priority. But because it was possible to build something lower-level than that, and because American cities are stupid enough to do so, we ended up with light rail spanning the entire range between metros and streetcars.

      The same thing happened with BRT, only it’s wider. Because it’s possible for a bus to travel in car lanes with no priority, some cities will do so, and say it’s BRT or rapid transit or whatever the buzzword do jour is. To me, Swift is clearly BRT, but RapidRide is not. But the A and the Shoreline part of the E are almost BRT, with full BAT lanes. They’d just need more frequency and wider stop spacing to be more clearly BRT. But the Seattle part of the E is a different picture, with only a few scattered blocks of transit/BAT lanes and some areas with 5-block stop spacing (e.g., 80th to 105th). The B, C, D, and F are similarly challenged.

      So RapidRide is not Curitiba or Swift, but it is something. The predecessors of all the RapidRide lines dropped to 30-minute frequency evenings and sometimes Sundays. They had almost no BAT lanes and no off-board payment or next-arrival signs. I have definitely benefited from the C, D, and E’s frequency and other features, and it makes it easier to get to Ballard, Aurora, and West Seattle off-peak. That makes me go there more often, spend money in those businesses, and attend events there. I’ve also benefited from the A, B, and F’s features, although I don’t go there as often. They are clearly better than the rest of Metro’s routes, so there needs to be some generic word for them. BRT is the closest word we have.

      Swift started before RapidRide, and it was the only thing between local routes and ST Express. So people started calling it BRT. And it does have full BAT lanes (at least the original Blue Line), frequency (relative to Snohomish County), off-board payment, next-arrival signs, and wide stop spacing. When Metro drafted RapidRide A-F and a levy and federal grant, it initially marketed RapidRide as “BRT, like Swift”. Then an Eyman initiative clipped funding, and Metro acknowledged it didn’t have enough funding for limited-stop lines with local overlays. And it became clear the levy wasn’t enough to fund the whole thing anyway, just to start development, as happened later with Move Seattle. And the communities argued for stations everywhere; not just at 65th, 85th, and 105th, but also at 73rd, 80th, and 90th. And Shoreline wanted stations every five blocks, promising to build urban villages at all of them. And the F detoured to the Sounder station so that Metro wouldn’t have to pay for a separate peak-hour shuttle to local employers. So RapidRide was watered down to its current state. Yet even in its current state it’s still something beneficial. It’s just a sad indictment of the US that we don’t aim higher.

  7. transit and ferries. note the odd 70-minute headway in the asdf2 story. going westbound, the shorter transit headway reduces waits. Bremerton is a bigger place than Eagle Harbor. it is hard to provide timed connections due to odd headways and variation in arrival times. the Kitsap approach seems sound. I read of an interesting two-way peak-only service between Kingston and Eagle Harbor that connects with two ferry routes. on Alki, routes 773 and 775 are timed and fare-free.

  8. Kitsap county is not BRT worthy. Kitsap transit buses have always packed up and went home for the day by 9PM and never operated on Sundays. Unless you commuted during office hours, Kitsap Transit was, and still is, useless–just like the pre-Link DSTT.

    So why bother adding BRT into the mix? Their first priority should be expanding hours of service and restoring Sunday service!

    1. You are correct when I would visit with friends in Silverdale Kitsap Transit was aweful and would have to take a taxi after 9 PM to Silverdale and the bus would run hourly weekdays and every 2 hours on Saturdays and no bus service on Sundays and Holidays which usually fell on a Monday and reduced schedules on Saturdays prior to holidays

    2. You have to start somewhere. Do you leave an exurb like Kitsap car-dependent for the next generation or do you at least start building some viable transit alternative? If Kitsap had built this thirty years ago, it would have had transit infrastructure during its explosive growth. That would have changed the assumptions, travel patterns, and mode share of developers, residents, and new residents. Even if the majority still drive, transit availability and ridership might have become more like Snohomish County.

      The term BRT is so vague it’s useless to argue whether certain features are or are not BRT. It’s better to just go with levels of BRT, as in the Bronze, Silver, and Gold categories that were defined for this purpose. To me, saying “303 is getting BRT” is just a way of saying Kitsap is getting a higher-level transit corridor relative to existing transit. That’s a worthwhile start, and we can argue later about whether to enhance it further, again following Snohomish County as a possible future model.

      1. Speaking of vague terms, not sure I’d call Bremerton an exurb.

        To me, Snoqualmie and Bainbridge are classic exurbs: bedroom communities physically distinct from the primary metro. In contrast, Bremerton would be a real city without Seattle, and commuters across the Sound are a small slice of its population.

    3. Route #301 – North Kitsap Fast Ferry Express doesn’t make sense for commuters to go all the way to/from Poulsbo to Bremerton.

      Just do BRT between Silverdale and Bremerton.

      Most people commuting to Seattle from Poulsbo are taking
      #390 – Poulsbo/Bainbridge route.

  9. Everybody here who knows Bremerton….leading up to the pandemic, what’s the town’s economy been like these last years? Purpose of my question is some idea of what recovery will look like.

    From turn-lanes to transit vehicles, everything to do with things like BRT can be adjusted. But it’s good to see any plans at all being worked out this early.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Mostly people working for Department of Defense (Naval shipyard, Bangor), government offices, schools and hospitals. There are lots of military personnel in the area, too.

    2. Fair amount of residential construction going on. There are housing (prices stable or a little up, not that many for sale signs) and apartment shortages (rents substantially higher).

    3. From my experience, Bremerton’s economy is relatively sleepy for Puget Sound. Growing but not quickly, low- to mid-end dining & retail, strong points are Navy- and shipping-related, not least the ferries. More developed transit on the 303 corridor makes great sense (though largely irrelevant to me). More business services to support the existing strengths, plus growing Olympic College, might provide the most leverage.

    4. Slow growth is fine. Kitsap wants to be a small-town, semi-rural area with a couple moderate-sized cities and industrial areas, likeTacoma was fifty years ago. The lack of a bridge makes this a reasonable goal for the west sound, in a way that would be problematic if Kent or Everett insisted on remaining so small. We need a lot more housing throughout the east sound; we don’t necessarily need that much in the west sound or on Vashon Island.

      if Kitsap digs in its heels and insists on no growth, well one, the PSRC won’t allow it, and two, its existing population and job growth would cause housing prices to rise faster than in the east sound and eventually reach its level, which would be a crisis for a low-ware area. So Kitsap can and will build more housing, and I don’t know what the ideal amount should be. But regardless of the amount, Kitsap should commit to a more transit-oriented environment: build houses closer together, with retail within walking distance, make walking paths as short and stratight as possible, don’t overuse open space or put building entrances far from the sidewalk or around a corner, make blocks small, and invest in all-day transit. This corridor is a step in that direction. It’s conceptually similar to establishing the 545, 550, and 554 as the trunk of a future enhanced transit network, as Sound Transit did in the 1990s.

      1. Bremerton has ambitious growth, which covers most of the relevant corridor. Rural Kitsap should stay rural, but Kitsap should see modest growth via Bremerton, (hopefully) TOD anchored by the downtown/ferry and more suburban growth in the industrial area anchored by their airport.

    5. The Kitsap Peninsula is essentially the newest ‘bedroom community’ for Seattle.

      Unfortunately, I think it’s growth will happen just as badly as the mainland.

      Hwy 3 = I-5
      Hwy 305 = I-405
      Hwy 303 = SR 99

      The only thing they don’t have is a rail corridor to piss away.

  10. So I noticed a lot of people where, thanks saying that the ferry runs only every 60 minutes, as of 2018 or 19 the bus at least information in Silverdale Kitsap County run every 30 minutes it’s still not very quick though they’re usually like 10 minutes late, but I really like that they are upgrading the transit and pedestrian bike system.

  11. What is BRT? Whatever happened to you use the name and the put acronym in brackets? That was the first thing my boss taught me.

    1. There’s a “Definitions” link in the right column. I wish we could always spell them out and explain them, but they’e used so often in so many articles that it’s not practical.

  12. Newcomer here, and I also came to the comments section to ask what BRT stands for. I didn’t notice the definitions link at all and probably wouldn’t have clicked on it even if I did because “definitions” is such a broad term that could be related to anything.

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