Move to Bremerton? Not if the governor gets her ferry cuts.

Bremerton may be a punch line, but it's also been an important feeder town


The Governor's Budget Cuts Would Shut Bremerton Out of Seattle Nightlife, and Be a Major Blow to the Local Music Scene

Move to Bremerton? Not if the governor gets her ferry cuts.

Bremerton may be a punch line, but it's also been an important feeder town to Seattle's music scene going back to the days of Quincy Jones (before he moved to Seattle).

Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard can talk your ear off about catching shows in Seattle a high school kid living in Bremerton, diligently watching the time, and booking it back to the ferry to catch the boat home in time for curfew. And when Bremerton's all-ages scene was humming with bands like Kane Hodder and Schoolyard Heroes, it was the kids on the ferry who gave the bands a leg up in Seattle, and convinced club owners that these punks from the other side of the water could fill rooms in Seattle. As recently as Monday night, there was a crowd of folks in the front of the room at Chop Suey who had come over on the boat to see Seattle's Stickers.

Tucked inside Gov. Chris Gregoire's proposed budget cuts yesterday was the elimination of all ferry runs from Seattle to Bremerton after the 9:05 run. Getting to the show won't be a problem. But there will be no boat home after the show.

These cuts would massively reduce the accessibility of Seattle music to Bremertonians -- and Seattle clubs' access to their wallets -- and would be devastating loss to show-goers in the ferry-dependent community. It would be a huge loss for the Seattle music community as well.

"The negative impact of pulling these ferry runs goes well beyond 'inconvenience,'" says Andrew Harms, who was raised in Bremerton, and is known to those in the music community as 107.7 the End's DJ Harms. "From families going to Mariners games, college kids commuting to UW or kids going to rock shows, everyone in Kitsap County will be affected. Financially, it's easy to see that this move will cause less people to come into the city and spend money. Environmentally it will force more people into their cars increasing both traffic and pollution. In this day & age taking away a valuable, established public transportation option seems unfathomable."

Harms has been at the End for more than a decade, and in recent years he has considered the idea of moving back to Bremerton -- where view homes with three bedrooms can still be had for less than $300,000 -- and commuting to Seattle for work. But if the House and Senate agree to these proposed changes, Harms says that will most likely put an end to those kinds of ideas.

"Without question it would make commuting from Bremerton to Seattle on a daily basis close to impossible for me," he says. "It would the same for anyone who works late, attends business dinners or social functions (for me rock shows) in the city as a necessary part of what they do."

As Harms mentions, it's not just the kids heading to shows that will be affected. The current schedule includes evening runs to Bremerton -- a city on the Kitsap Peninsula that is otherwise accessible via the Tacoma Narrows Bridge -- at 9:05 p.m., 10:30 p.m., and 12:50 a.m. It has been gray-haired opera fans who have been the most vocal at Washington State Ferries' public meetings in recent years pleading for a run between 10:30 and 12:50 to better accommodate their ability to see the end of plays and the ballet. There are also thousands of members of the Navy who take the ferry and fill the bars in Pioneer Square on the weekends.

The proposed changes would force Bremertonians and other residents dependent on the Bremerton ferry to either drive to Bainbridge (30+ minutes mainly on a two-lane road) and ride the Island's boat, or drive around across the Narrows bridge. But more than force people into their cars and onto the highways, these proposals would cause people to stay home and dramatically cut off their access nightlife, setting in motion a chain of events that would ultimately be a loss to the Seattle music community as well.

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