Lower San Francisco Bay Ferry Fares Extended
Ridership Recovery Reaches 50% of Pre-Pandemic Levels
SAN FRANCISCO | April 8, 2022 – Thanks to federal pandemic relief funding, the San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) Board of Directors on Thursday approved an extension of lower San Francisco Bay Ferry fares for up to a year.
WETA launched its Pandemic Recovery Program in July 2021. The Program relaunched robust ferry service at lower fares to incentivize the return of riders to the system, accommodate expected changes in travel patterns, and attract a new, diversified ridership base. The fare decrease – roughly 30% lower than pre-pandemic fares across the system – was set to expire at the end of June 2022. Today’s vote will keep the lower fares in through June 2023 barring further Board action.
“The strong growth in ferry ridership over the last 10 months is proof that our recovery strategy is working,” said Jim Wunderman, Chair of the WETA Board of Directors. “With companies welcoming employees back to the office and soaring gas prices making travel more expensive, this is a critical time for us to maximize the availability and accessibility of our service for Bay Area travelers, and affordability is an essential part of that.”
Since the start of the program, San Francisco Bay Ferry has experienced strong ridership recovery, especially on weekends and during off-peak hours. But over the last month, the system’s biggest ridership gains have come from weekday commute service, as local COVID-19 case levels have ebbed and more worksites have begun welcoming non-essential employees back without restriction.
In March 2022, overall ridership on San Francisco Bay Ferry reached 53% of pre-pandemic seasonal average, with weekend ridership exceeding 95% of pre-pandemic averages.
On Wednesday, San Francisco Bay Ferry set a new two-year weekday high for ridership, hitting 5,791 passengers across six routes. That represents 60% of pre-pandemic weekday averages for this time of year.
The Pandemic Recovery Program was developed based on the 13 core principles to guide recovery adopted by the WETA Board in February 2021. Those core principles reflect WETA’s intent to enhance equity and access to ferry service while making the system more competitive in the Bay Area transportation landscape.