Kitsap Transit has added another high-speed passenger-only ferry to its fleet with the $1 million purchase of M/V Solano from a California ferry operator.
Kitsap Transit plans to have the Solano — a 125-foot-long power catamaran that can travel at 32.5 knots with a full load — transported from Mare Island, Calif., to Bremerton and then to a dry dock in the Puget Sound region for, among other things, re-branding, new upholstery, and replacement of worn parts.
Meanwhile, Kitsap Transit will explore the feasibility of modifying the vessel to load passengers from the vessel’s bow. As a bow-loading vessel, Solano could potentially serve as a spare on Kitsap Transit’s planned Southworth/Seattle route, which is anticipated to launch this year.
Solano entered service in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2004. It operated on the City of Vallejo’s BayLink service until ferry operations were transitioned to the San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) and rebranded as San Francisco Bay Ferry.
In 2019, Solano carried 217,884 passengers on the Vallejo and Richmond routes. Required by the California Air Resources Board to meet stricter air quality standards, WETA concluded it would be more cost-effective to sell Solano than retrofit it.