The passenger ferry service between Bremerton and downtown Seattle will end March 30, a victim of low ridership, high fuel costs and the...

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The passenger ferry service between Bremerton and downtown Seattle will end March 30, a victim of low ridership, high fuel costs and the lack of local support.

“We’re proud of what we did,” said Greg Dronkert, president of Kitsap Ferry, which provided the service. “We’ve demonstrated that public-private relationships can work, but the reality is we were never able to put together a funding mechanism.”

Service began in 2004, with Kitsap Transit paying for the boat lease, docking and fuel. But a Kitsap County measure, which would have increased the sales tax by three-tenths of a cent to pay for passenger ferry service, was defeated last month. It was needed to keep the Bremerton ferry running.

Kitsap Transit director Dick Hayes, who led the campaign for the measure, said a defeat would likely spell the end of passenger service between Bremerton and Seattle. The service provided two round trips on weekdays.

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Dronkert said his boat carried about 400 passengers each day. For regular passengers, it cost $14 for a round trip, which is more than twice what is charged by Washington State Ferries for passengers on the car ferry, but it was 20 minutes faster than the state boat.

Those who bought monthly passes were paying only $8.60 for a round trip. Kitsap Ferry charges in both direction. The state charges $6.50 for passengers on the car ferry, but fares are collected only westbound and Dronkert said some passengers were taking his boat to Bremerton and riding the state ferry back to Seattle for free.

Dronkert said he wants to keep his permit with the state Utilities and Transportation Commission, in case he is able to revive his foot ferry service.

Susan Gilmore: 206-464-2054 or sgilmore@seattletimes.com