Unexpected windfalls to jump-start Sunday service
June 11, 2008 · Updated 10:57 AM
"A few unexpected windfalls have put Kitsap Transit in a position to bring back limited routed and Access service on Sundays.Having secured $1.3 million to restore limited service, the Kitsap Transit Board of Commissioners will vote to restore Sunday service at its June 7 meeting. The money would pay for Sunday service for one year.If the resolution passes, limited Sunday service will return June 18, the same day Washington State Ferries makes cuts to weekend service.Initiative 695 eliminated Kitsap Transit's primary source of income, motor vehicle excise tax money, leaving officials scrambling to continue to operate buses while simultaneously working on several capital projects that were underway. Service was cut to make up for the loss of revenue.(Initiative) 695 happened at the most critical moment and three months after the point of no return, said Kitsap Transit executive director Dick Hayes.Because environmental impact studies for construction projects can cost more than $1 million and become obsolete as time passes, Hayes said Kitsap Transit had to move forward with projects to avoid having to pay again.Somebody needs to be taking an environmental study and coverting it to a building before it lapses, he said.Kitsap Transit received $300,000 more than expected in motor vehicle excise tax funds from the second half of 1999, as well as $1.2 million more than anticipated from the state Legislature.A $2.75 million grant from the federal government will partially pay for work on the Bremerton Transportation Center, and a $3.3 million state Community Economic Revitalization Board grant will go toward the Enetai Building.Fare revenues and tax income both were better than expected, each raking in $500,000 for Kitsap Transit, though they are one-time funding sources.Kitsap Transit officials decided to use the funds to restore Sunday service following public input regarding which services were most valued. It doesn't do very much for commuters, but we tried already to reach the commuters, Hayes said, citing a reduced monthly pass rate and more rush hour service.If a sales tax increase to be proposed by Kitsap Transit passes in September, that tax revenue would be combined with the $1.3 million to speed up hiring, training and re-implementation of service, Hayes said.About half of the $1.3 million needed to restore routed and Access service would cover personnel costs, including wages, salaries and benefits for staff and drivers. Another $374,000 would go toward maintenance; $105,697 would pay for customer service."