WETA Transfers MV Solano to Kitsap Transit

MV Solano passenger ferry

SAN FRANCISCO | February 24, 2021 – The San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) today announced it is transferring one of its passenger ferries, MV Solano, to Kitsap Transit in Washington State.

MV Solano entered service in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2004, operating on the City of Vallejo’s BayLink service until ferry operations were transitioned to WETA in 2012 and rebranded as San Francisco Bay Ferry. While MV Solano remains in great condition, the vessel could not be legally operated in California as of the end of 2019 due to state emissions rules, forcing its early retirement.

MV Solano carried 217,884 passengers on the Vallejo and Richmond routes in 2019.

“As we continue to invest in WETA’s ferry fleet, already the cleanest in the nation, we’re so happy to have found a good home for MV Solano,” said Jim Wunderman, Chair of the WETA Board of Directors. “This vessel has served the Bay Area well and I’m glad it will provide additional capacity and reliability for Seattle.”

MV Solano was built for $11 million by Dakota Creek Industries in Anacortes, Wash., funded in part through grants from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). With a useful life of 25 years there remains federal interest in the vessel, which Kitsap Transit will assume. The transfer has been approved by the boards of WETA and Kitsap Transit and authorized by FTA. Roughly $1 million will be transferred to WETA in the transaction.

Kitsap Transit, which connects the communities of Bremerton and Kingston in Kitsap County, Wash., to Seattle, is currently planning for transport of the ferry to Washington State. Kitsap Transit branding will be applied to the vessel, but MV Solano will retain its name.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) adopted emissions rules for commercial harbor craft including passenger ferries in 2007, three years after MV Solano entered service. These rules required ferry engines to be upgraded to cleaner U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certified Tier 4 engines by various deadlines, or to be retired.

WETA has built the first high-speed passenger ferries in the nation powered by Tier 4 engines: MV Pyxis, MV Vela and MV Lyra. These three ferries, the cleanest-burning high-speed passenger ferries in the nation, have entered service within the last two years and cost a combined $63 million to build. WETA is currently working with CARB to find innovative solutions to reduce emissions further and move toward building a zero-emission fleet as the state considers additional regulation on ferries and other harbor crafts.

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