WETA Celebrates Clean Air Day With Free Ferry Rides, Vessel Emissions Reduction Project

SAN FRANCISCO | October 5, 2021 – The San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) today announced that it will offer free rides on its San Francisco Bay Ferry service on October 6, 2021, to celebrate Clean Air Day. WETA also announced a major project to reduce air pollution emissions on its four Gemini-class passenger ferries.

"Reducing air pollution caused by transportation is critical to protecting human health and addressing climate change," said WETA Executive Director Seamus Murphy. "We invite Bay Area residents to ride the ferry for free on Clean Air Day to see how easy it is to travel car-free."

In September 2021, the WETA Board of Directors approved a $5.5 million project to upgrade the engines on the agency’s four Gemini-class vessels to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The first engine replacement is scheduled to begin in the coming days and the full project is expected to be completed in early 2023.

When complete, emissions from the upgraded ferries will be significantly reduced. Nitrogen oxide (NOx) and hydrocarbon (HC) emissions will decrease 73 percent and particular matter (PM) emissions will decrease 80 percent.

WETA pursued the project outside of regulatory requirements in its push to green its fleet.

"WETA is working hard to reduce emissions from its fleet while forging a path toward operating zero-emission ferries," Murphy said. "We already operate the cleanest high-speed passenger ferry fleet in the nation, and this project will make it even cleaner."

The four Gemini-class vessels – MV Gemini, MV Scorpio, MV Taurus and MV Pisces – entered service in the Bay Area in 2008 and 2009 and each carry up to 225 passengers with service speeds of 27 knots. The vessels can be used on any of San Francisco Bay Ferry’s six routes, but are most frequently used on the Richmond and South San Francisco routes.

The vessels currently operate with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Tier 2 engines and will be upgraded with Tier 4 engines manufactured by Germany-based MAN Engines. WETA built the nation’s first high-speed passenger ferry with Tier 4 certified engines, MV Pyxis, in March 2019. Two other Tier 4 certified ferries, MV Vela and MV Lyra, entered San Francisco Bay Ferry service shortly thereafter.

The EPA recently certified WETA’s four Hydrus-class vessels as equivalent to Tier 4 due to additional emissions reduction technology installed on the ferries. Construction is currently underway on two additional Tier 4 ferries for WETA, MV Dorado and MV Delphinus. Two more Tier 4 ferries are also under contract to be built.

Funding for the Gemini class project came from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District’s (BAAQMD) Carl Moyer grant program and proceeds from Alameda County’s transportation sales tax.  

The project will be completed by JT Marine, Inc., based in Vancouver, Wash.

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