San Francisco Bay Ferry Now Operates Service that Exceeds Pre-COVID Levels, Includes New Route to Alameda
SAN FRANCISCO – The San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) today celebrated the relaunch of regional ferry service by cutting the ribbon on the recently built terminal at Seaplane Lagoon, where a new ferry route will operate connecting Alameda and San Francisco. The agency’s new service plan also features lower fares, faster travel times between San Francisco and Oakland, and more weekday service than ever before.
The new Alameda Seaplane ferry route officially launched today. This commuter route offers reliable 20-minute transit between the new Seaplane Lagoon Ferry Terminal in Alameda and Downtown San Francisco, and allows WETA to offer robust 25- minute Oakland to San Francisco ferry commute service for the first time ever on the revamped Oakland & Alameda ferry route.
Today’s relaunch of ferry service also features enhanced frequency on the Vallejo and Richmond ferry routes and resumed service on the Harbor Bay ferry route. Weekend service on the Oakland & Alameda, Richmond and Vallejo ferry routes will begin Saturday.
“Over the past decade, San Francisco Bay Ferry was celebrated as a major success story. The pandemic interrupted that progress, but today’s relaunch is putting us back on track,” said Jim Wunderman, Chair of the WETA Board of Directors. “It will take time, but we are committed to taking aggressive steps to regain momentum, incentivize new and returning riders to get onboard, and reestablish this service as a critical part of the Bay Area’s mobility network. Our investment in operating the new Alameda Seaplane route is a major part of this, both in increasing reliability and capacity for our Alameda riders while opening up a new market for commute service in Oakland.”
In addition to higher service levels, fares throughout the system will be reduced for the next year, effective today. One-way fares between the East Bay and San Francisco are $4.50 using Clipper or mobile tickets. One-way fares between Vallejo and San Francisco – a two-bridge trip – are just $9. Further discounts are available for youth, seniors, disabled passengers, and low-income residents. The new schedules and fares can be found at sanfranciscobayferry.com/bestwayback.
The service increases and fare reductions were approved by WETA’s Board of Directors in April 2021. This decision was guided by WETA’s Pandemic Recovery Program, an effort to incentivize the return of riders to the system; to accommodate expected changes in travel patterns; and to attract a new, diversified ridership base.
The Seaplane Lagoon Ferry Terminal is WETA’s third ferry terminal within the City of Alameda, and provides more reliable 20-minute travel times by avoiding the Oakland estuary where cargo ship traffic can cause delays. The terminal also features excellent access for riders connecting by bus or bike. Beginning August 9, riders will have direct bus access aboard AC Transit’s Line 78 pilot project. Line 78 riders traveling from San Francisco to Alameda Seaplane or vice versa will be eligible for a transfer discount equivalent to the local bus fare when using a Clipper card. Cyclists can look forward to excellent access along the Cross Alameda Trail and on-site facilities including secure bike lockers.
Construction of the $23 million Seaplane Lagoon Ferry Terminal began in 2019. Work was completed in 2020, but the launch of ferry service was deferred due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Funding and support for the project were provided by the Alameda County Transportation Commission, Alameda Point Partners, the City of Alameda, and WETA.
The project team included Ghirardelli Associates, Marcy Wong Donn Logan Architects, COWI, DeSilva Gates Construction and Power Engineering Construction Company.
Quotes from Speakers at the Seaplane Lagoon Ferry Terminal Ribbon Cutting
MARILYN EZZY ASHCRAFT
Mayor of the City of Alameda
“I’m delighted to join local officials to inaugurate the Seaplane Lagoon Ferry Terminal and celebrate the new weekday commute service to downtown San Francisco. As an island city, Alameda residents, visitors, and businesses rely on affordable and accessible public transit — including by water. Thanks to AC Transit and WETA’s collaboration, ferry riders from across the island can reach the Seaplane Lagoon Ferry Terminal via direct, timed bus service originating at the Fruitvale BART station. Ferry riders can also access the Seaplane Lagoon Ferry Terminal by foot or bike via the Bay Trail and Cross Alameda Trail. As many people return to their workplaces for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, this new ferry service will provide a comfortable, environmentally-friendly, and scenic car-free commute.”
California Attorney General
“California is coming back strong, and the relaunch of San Francisco Bay Ferry service today is another great sign for our recovery. As an Alamedan, I know how important ferries are for getting residents where they need to go. WETA, the Alameda County Transportation Commission, the City of Alameda and Alameda Point Partners have invested to improve ferry infrastructure and it’s going to pay off for the people who live, work or play in the Bay Area.”
Metropolitan Transportation Commissioner
“Opening a new terminal and a new ferry route is a fitting way to celebrate the restoration of ferry service throughout the region. On behalf of the Commission, we are deeply thankful to Speaker Pelosi and the Bay Area delegation for delivering much needed and unprecedented support for our transit systems. None of this would be possible without their efforts, and MTC is proud to help put those funds to use, allowing agencies like WETA to relaunch service and set the Bay Area on a strong path toward recovery.”
Alameda County Transportation Commission Chair And Mayor Of San Leandro
“Ferry vessels going to and from Oakland, San Francisco and Alameda will provide an alternative way to get on and off the island without having to take increasingly crowded roads and bridges, which will provide relief for congested corridors, improve access for riders, bicyclists, pedestrians and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Many thanks to the voters of Alameda County for your commitment to supporting ferry service, a critical component of our multimodal transportation system.”
Alameda Point Partners
“Service at the Seaplane Lagoon Ferry Terminal is an important investment, which improves regional access to Alameda, expands Bay Area public transit options, and drives investment in Alameda Point’s revitalization. The goal is to reduce dependency on the automobile and provide Alameda's residents, businesses, and visitors with a greater range of alternative transportation choices such as public transit, biking and walking.”
President of the AC Transit Board of Directors
“The Line 78 pilot project will play an important role in encouraging commuters into San Francisco to take public transportation instead of their cars. And fewer cars on the road means less traffic congestion and cleaner air for everyone.”
Alameda County Supervisor, District 3
“With Alameda County beginning to reopen and more of our residents returning to work, this is an ideal time for the opening of the Alameda Seaplane Lagoon Ferry Terminal,” said Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan. “This project will provide increased transportation options, reduce traffic congestion, and serve as a catalyst for transit-oriented development at Alameda Point.”