It makes sense, since Bainbridge Islanders have this thing about frogs, that the new Chamber of Commerce tourism bus system is called the Frog Hopper Bus. The name also makes sense since riders can hop on and off the buses at favorite visitor destinations including Rolling Bay, the Bloedel Reserve, Coppertop Loop, Lynwood, and Pritchard Park.
Starting July 6, during the day on weekends all summer long and likely through September, two buses will carry residents and visitors to places beyond Winslow that are of special interest. The bus is the Chamber’s response to the many of the 50,000 Island visitors last year who, when speaking with Chamber staff at the ferry kiosk, requested transportation to visit high-interest destinations.
The buses will cover two routes, each route about 45 minutes long:
- The North Loop route will go through town, then to Rolling Bay, Fay Bainbridge Park, and the Bloedel Reserve, returning down the highway to High School Road and via Madison and Winslow Way to the ferry.
- The South Loop route will take the highway to Madison, then to Coppertop, Bainbridge Gardens, the Grand Forest, Battle Point Park, Lynwood Center, near Fort Ward, and the Japanese American Exclusion Memorial/Pritchard Park, returning via Wyatt, Grow, Parfitt, and Madison to Winslow Way and the ferry.
Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center Manager Mickey Molnaire said that the buses are being funded for fifteen weekends through a combination of lodging tax revenues and matching funds from sponsors. The two buses, which are being provided by Agate Pass Transportation are 31 feet long. They have bike racks and ADA lifts.
Many of the details—such as the schedules and a family fare—are still being worked out for this pilot project. Molnaire said they had hoped to go to more remote locations but they were concerned about bothering neighbors of smaller roads with the large buses so they stuck to a few major sites. Molnaire said they are trying to schedule the buses to coincide with the arrivals and departures of the ferries and to run between about 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.
So far, they know that an all-day pass good on both routes will run $7. Tickets will be available online and at the ferry kiosk, at the main visitor center, and on the buses. Island residents will be able to purchase a discounted monthly or season pass at the Chamber office.
Check the Chamber website over the next weeks for more specific information. If you own a Chamber member business and would like to participate in a sponsorship or advertising on the buses, contact the Chamber for details.
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Photo by Julie Hall.