Shuttle bus now in action

Coupeville merchants’ wishes were granted Friday when Washington State Ferries agreed to pay for Island Transit to bring Keystone foot ferry passengers directly to downtown Coupeville.

Mayor Nancy Conard said Friday morning she worked all day Thursday with Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, Island Transit and state ferry officials to see that the new bus service was implemented. The bus service was slated to begin on Friday during business hours, roughly 10 to 5.

Martha Rose, Island Transit director, said the first “Keystone to Coupeville shuttle” met the 9:30 a.m. boat Friday. The shuttle bus had been decorated the night before in holiday mode, and driver Phyllis Brett stopped in Coupeville to personally spread the word to business owners that the new service was available.

The shuttle will drop foot ferry passengers off on Front Street, and pick them up before returning to Keystone for the next ferry. Passengers will be dropped off and picked up in front of the Island County Historical Society Museum.

Rose said the service will cost a maximum of $1,900 per week, but it will probably be less than that. Washington State Ferries will foot the bill.

Merchants had complained that the lack of an auto ferry at Keystone was hurting business.

Conard said the ferry system also agreed to advertise how Seattle area residents can reach Coupeville with the auto ferry gone until January. Shoppers from the big city can take the temporary Seattle to Port Towsend foot ferry named the Snohomish, then hop on the Olympas to cross Admiralty Inlet to Keystone, and from there ride the bus to Coupeville.

“You can get from Seattle to Coupeville without a car,” will be the essence of the advertising message, Conard said.

Conard also expressed satisfaction with the resolution of Keystone ferry issues announced this week. Three new auto ferries will be built as quickly as possible for the route; meanwhile, an auto ferry will be leased and start service in January.

“The most important thing is to get the car service back,” Conard said. “The rest is just mitigation.”

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