Kitsap Transit added a 31st worker-driver bus route to its fleet Monday, serving the county's southeastern reaches.
It's scheduled to transport day-shift workers to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard by 6:40 a.m.
The route starts near the Pierce County border, traveling on Peacock Hill, Crescent Valley and Burley-Olalla roads, among others. It cuts through neighborhoods between Burley-Olalla and Mullenix roads, follows Mullenix to Highway 16 and then to the shipyard.
Kitsap Transit replaced worn-out buses with mid-1990s touring-style coaches over the past three years. It continues to improve them, most recently installing new seats. It has 38 of the rigs, leaving seven available for more new routes, said Phil Duryea, worker-driver supervisor.
They can carry 47 to 49 riders. The Olalla route began Monday with eight, but Duryea expects the ranks to grow quickly.
Last year, worker-driver ridership pushed close to a half-million — between 1,600 and 1,700 a day. Two routes go to Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, the rest to Bremerton. The next one will probably connect North Kitsap workers to Bangor, Duryea said.
Qualified federal employees can ride for free under the Federal Transportation Incentive Program to improve traffic around facilities. Contract and other nonfederal employees can buy monthly passes for $75.
The buses are driven by full-time workers at the military facilities who are also part-time drivers for Kitsap Transit. The routes operate like big carpools, starting at or near the drivers' homes and picking up others along the way. The program has been in place since World War II.
Copyright 2014 - Kitsap Sun, Bremerton, Wash.