How is the Ferry Commute from Bainbridge to Seattle?

View of Wing Point on Bainbridge from the Bainbridge Island Ferry.

View of the Wing Point Neighborhood on Bainbridge from the Bainbridge Island Ferry.


One question I get a lot from folks looking to move to Bainbridge is “how easy is the ferry commute from Bainbridge to Seattle?” We had that very same question before moving to Bainbridge and thanks to our friend Julie, who we were renting a cottage from, we got an insider’s day to day perspective on ferry commuting. We were happy that the costs, how long an actual commute takes, etc. were not a surprise to us after we had purchased our home.

You will often hear that “Seattle is a 35 minute ferry ride from Bainbridge,” which is true, but that is dock to dock.  In reality, door to door, at the very minimum is about an hour.  But, even if your total commute is over an hour, 35 minutes will be on the ferry, where you can sleep, read, work, talk, drink, and unwind.  Much different than the bumper to bumper traffic on I-5.

Our friend Julie shared this info with us while sitting outside her beach cottage on Pleasant Beach. This blog post won’t have the same charm, but will hopefully give you the ins and outs of ferry commuting to Seattle via different avenues/options. Everyone’s commute is a little different, but here are some of the more popular commuting combinations:

SHELLY- living in Winslow, walking on the ferry & walking in downtown Seattle

To me, this is ideal.  Our friend Shelly lives in Winslow and walks on the ferry each morning and then walks off and to work at Virginia Mason Hospital in Seattle.  She has about a ten minute walk on the Bainbridge side (not counting a stop for coffee at the coffee kiosk) and about a fifteen minute walk on the Seattle side. All in all about an hour. This is one of the leanest, most economical commutes you can do.  Your only cost is the walk-on pass.  No parking, no bus fares, and great exercise.  And yes, she does it year round and has been doing it for over ten years  – and for many years with kids in tow who went to daycare on the Seattle side.

CLINT – biking on & biking off

My husband is one of the many bike commuters on the ferry each day.  This too is one of the leaner commutes for time and money. Initially he did spend about $1000 on a new bike and gear, but that was quickly earned back on commute savings. We live in Winslow as well, which was a deliberate choice for us to be near the ferry on this side, given the fact that my husband’s office is ten miles off the ferry on the Seattle side.  Being a bike commuter only costs $20 more a year than being a walk-on commuter.  He leaves our house 15 minutes before the ferry departs and then has about a one hour bike ride on the other side, total time just shy of two hours.  Now, with that said, his being a longer commute, he does not have to do it every day.  He commutes to Seattle 3X a week and works on Bainbridge the other days.  And yes, biking can be done most of the year.  In the cold, icy season of Dec.-Feb. on some days, he does walk to the ferry and then take the bus on the other side.  Not his preferred method because it does take longer, but on some days, it is just unsafe to bike.  My husband’s commute is longer in time, but he also gets great excercise, something he does not have to worry about the rest of the week.

Cyclists getting on the Bainbridge Ferry, Seattle side in summer.

Cyclists getting on the Bainbridge Ferry, Seattle side in the summer.


MARK – living further out and taking the bus to the Bainbridge Ferry & walking or busing on the Seattle side

Our friend Mark lives out in Fort Ward and works in downtown Seattle.  Fort Ward is on the extreme south end of the island, so he either gets a ride, takes the bus to the ferry or sometimes rides his bike.  The majority of the time he takes the bus.  To make the 6:20 am ferry, he would need to be on the 5:45 bus.  However, this works for him because he only walks four blocks on the Seattle side, about ten minutes, so total commute time is an hour and five minutes.  A monthly ORCA Bus Pass is also a great idea via Kitsap Transit.

TIM – busing or walking to the Bainbridge Ferry & keeping a car on the Seattle side

This is where the commute gets a little trickier.  Our friend Tim lives in one of the in-town neighborhoods, but his job location changes from time to time based on projects and currently, he is in Kirkland.  Since Kirkland is a haul, he keeps a car on the Seattle side. So, on the Bainbridge side he takes a bus or rides his bike then walks or rides to his car in Seattle.  On the Seattle side, you can pay to park in a garage from about $200-350 a month. So, Tim’s commute costs are higher with parking on the Seattle side and his commute time is about an hour and a half, best case.

MICHAEL – driving to the Bainbridge Ferry and parking and walking on & walking or busing on the Seattle side

Paying to park on the Bainbridge side is much more reasonable than parking in Seattle.  Michael, one of my clients bought a house on the south end of the island as well.  Luckily, he too works in downtown Seattle.  To save some time, he drives to and parks at the ferry and then walks on.  This adds about $100-125 to his monthly commute, but saves him about 10 minutes each way in time.  So, his total commute time with a ten minute walk in Seattle is about an hour.

DOUG – Driving on the Bainbridge Ferry & driving on the Seattle side

Our friend Doug works in Bellevue.  He does not need to go in everyday of the week, but on the days he does, he drives.  Which means driving on and off the ferry.  Getting a car on the ferry during peak times does require more time to ensure you actually get on the ferry.  And, the cost is much higher as well.  If you did this 2X a week it would cost over $200 a month, 4X a week would be double.  However, if you require a car on both sides, this could be the most cost effective option, as there are no parking fees.  In time, this is at least a 90 minute commute, best case scenario.

Other ferry commute options

There are of course other options like carpooling, keeping a bike at the Bike Barn at the ferry, riding a scooter or motorcycle, but the above are some of the more popular means of getting to work.  In short, it is ideal if you live and work close to the docks on both sides, but if that can’t be controlled, living or working close to the dock on at least one side is the next best option.

The ferry is not the freeway

So, 90 minutes is a long commute yes, but the fact that a third of that is on the ferry makes all the difference in the world.  The time on the ferry is prime social time or down time for many folks.  On the commute runs, you see people talking, playing games, reading, working on their laptops, listening to iPods, knitting, playing cards, paying bills, and drinking, yes drinking.  In addition to food there is beer and wine on the ferry and yes, folks do partake.  ”Having a drink after work” can be rolled into your commute home, which is just plain efficient.  Folks getting home after a ferry ride certainly do not have the same blood pressure as those getting out of a car after 90 minutes on the freeway.

So, please know that your commute is not going to be 35 minutes long, but the fact that you can live in a rural community and work in the big city via a one hour commute, sans driving, is pretty cool.

Commuting to Seattle from Bainbridge by ferry.

A passenger enjoying the sun while commuting from Bainbridge Island to Seattle by ferry.


The nuts and bolts on pricing 

the big thing to know is get a commuter pass. the pricing is reduced. my pricing below is as of May of 2016 and note fares are seasonal and highest in the summer.


  • Cost to park at the ferry @$11 for 12 hours, $15 for 24 hours, $7 for evening. Credit cards now accepted. More info here.

Walk-on ferry fares– note: you only pay on the seattle side (except cars pay on both sides)

  • Monthly walk-on passes $105.80 or $8.20 daily
  • 10 time walk on pass is $66.10
  • Youth or Senior walk-on rate $4.10 (6-18) under six is free :)
  • Cyclists pay $1 surcharge from the Seattle to Bainbridge trip or can buy a $20 pass for the year and avoid the surcharge

Driving on the ferry – note: you pay for a car on both sides

  • Car- $18.20
  • 20-ride multi-pass is $234.60 good for 90 days & can be shared

For more nuts and bolts, visit the WSF Bainbridge site.  

Get a first hand look at the ferry scene with the Ferry Web Cam.

UPDATED May 2016.

On December 27, 2010, in Community, by

The popular musical fire truck is back in Winslow this week – in the evenings.  See the schedule below.  Who doesn’t love fire trucks, firemen, Christmas music . . .  and candy!

The Musical FIre Truck Schedule for Bainbridge Island.  Courtesy BIFD.

The Musical FIre Truck Schedule for Bainbridge Island. Courtesy BIFD.

Area 9: Monday, Dec. 20

Area 10: Tuesday, Dec. 21

Area 11: Wednesday, Dec. 22

Area 12a:(Sportsman Club, North Town, Capstan Dr., Commodore Lane, Weaver Rd.)

Thursday, Dec. 23

Area 12: Friday, Dec. 24

On December 20, 2010, in Community, by
North Town Woods Auction on Bainbridge Island

North Town Woods Auction on Bainbridge Island

This morning at 8am in the chilly 40 degree weather about forty people gathered in North Town Woods on Bainbridge Island for a live auction hosted by Williams & Williams Auction.  The only auctions I have ever been to have been on the courthouse steps.  But, this was a live auction with a good ol’e fashioned auctioneer.

What is on the Auction Block?

Up for auction was a 2,586 square foot home in the popular North Town Woods Neighborhood.  The home was built in 2000 by Reese Construction and back in December of 2007, it sold for $605k. Today the bidding was set to start at $100k.

My overall impression was that the auction was pretty informal, went very fast (under 2 minutes), and had a surprisingly high winning bid.

If you go the Williams & Williams website, you will see all their terms –  and that you have to register, etc.  This morning, they threw out two things, registration and the buyer’s premium, which was going to be 5% of the purchase price, they reduced it to a flat $3k.  So, in an effort to cut to the chase and save time, it felt pretty informal.  I went there with general curiosity and an interest in buying the house –  and all I needed to bring was my personal checkbook (or cashier’s check would have been fine too).

Online and on the Lawn

The bidding for this house was online and “on the lawn” as they say, or in this case on a slippery driveway.  Five minutes late, (you know, that darn ferry), the fast talking auctioneer and his two assistants pulled up to the driveway in their slick black SUV.  Within a minute, the trio, who were also dressed in black, had the crowd assembled and started by going over boiler-plate terms.  They had this drill down.  When the auction started all the auctioneer had was a microphone, speaker, and a cell phone. During the auction an assistant was on his cell phone calling out the live online bids.

Live Auction on the Driveway in North Town Woods

Live auction on the driveway in North Town Woods

Start the bidding at . . .

The starting bid for this house, which was last on the market for $468k was $100k.  Within seconds the bidding was well over $200k.  I placed a bid for $225/250k, but within another few seconds the bidding was up at $380k – over my limit.

The bidding slowed down a bit when it got close to $400k and got a little confusing because the bidders could not understand the auctioneer or what the last price was.  Watch the video below and you’ll see what I mean.

An online bidder popped up the price to $420k, and the gal (on the driveway) who was bidding against him would not go to $421k.  Therefore, the winner was a nameless, faceless person online, just a number, not very exciting.

Back on the Driveway

Many neighbors were there, including the president of the home owners association.  I am sure they were all glad to see the house finally sell and for such a solid price. The prediction of most of the Realtors at the auction today (and there were about a dozen of us) was that the house would go for about $350k.   With that, we estimated the house needs about $30k in work, taking the total investment to roughly $455k, with all costs.

The Auctioneer getting ready to start the bids.  Auction in North Town Woods.

The Auctioneer getting ready to start the bids

Sold for . . .$420,000

$420k, was a pretty high price for an auction home, in my opinion.  However, this auction, unlike the one’s on the courthouse steps, allows you to get financing.   You also get a clean title and don’t have to assume any liens, so it is much less risky.  You also have 30 days after the bank approves the price (yes they have final approval on the price which takes about two weeks) to close – making a 45 day escrow period.

With this type of auction you can get financing, like I said, but you don’t have a financing contingency (meaning if you don’t get financing you lose your earnest money) and you don’t have an inspection contingency period either.  Meaning you had to do all your poking around in the crawl space before the auction – and believe me it was something you’d want to see before, not after your purchase – no not mice, the rats chased them all away.

Watch the Video of Today’s Live Auction:

Will there be More?

My prediction is that there will be even more of these auctions next year.  Homes typically go to auctions after they foreclose, (go to the bank) and then the bank can not sell them via the traditional Realtor route.  With the number of bank owned homes on the market right now (12 condos and homes) and the additional supply that will inevitably come on the market next year . . . I’ll be seeing you on the lawn, or the driveway.

Home in North Town Woods sold at auction today for $420,000

Home in North Town Woods sold at auction today for $420,000

Homes Currently on the Market in North Town Woods:

The other homes currently for sale in North Town Woods range from $479k to $610k.  But, they vary greatly in size, location, and amenities (like one has a detached guest suite).  The last home that sold in North Town Woods with the same floorplan as today’s auction house sold for $598k at the end of 2008.  It was a much better location, as it backed to the shared open space, but still two years made for a $178k difference.


6773 NE Sid Price Road in Poulsbo.  Listed for $995,000

6773 NE Sid Price Road in Poulsbo. Listed for $995,000.

Details About the Home

  • Single family waterfront home with three wings
  • 170 feet of waterfront
  • .96 acres
  • Built in 1998
  • Designed by architect Seri Yeckel
  • 6,405 square feet in three glass atrium connected buildings (wings)
  • Five bedrooms and 5.5 bathrooms
  • Two large studios with built-ins and storage
  • 6 bedroom septic system
  • Shared, two party well

Click here to visit this home’s website.

Jennifer Pells and Casey McGrath


  • Priced at $995,000
6773 NE Sid Price Road in Poulsbo, WA

View from remote deck.

Click here to visit this home’s website.

On December 14, 2010, in Homes, Listing, Real Estate Business, Uncategorized, by

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