San Francisco Bay Ferry to Offer Its Most Weekday Service Ever Beginning July 1
SAN FRANCISCO | MAY 19, 2021 -- The San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) released new San Francisco Bay Ferry schedules today. The schedules will go into effect on July 1 and represent the highest number of daily departures that the agency has ever offered. Increased service is being offered as a part of the agency’s Pandemic Recovery Program, and will help incentivize the return of riders to the ferry system and support the reopening of the regional economy over the next year.
San Francisco Bay Ferry will operate 136 weekday transbay departures on five routes beginning July 1, up from 105 departures during the 2019 summer season. This represents a 30 percent increase in weekday service levels over pre-pandemic levels. The record total does not include the South San Francisco ferry route, which is scheduled to resume in October 2021 with eight additional daily transbay departures.
The new schedules can be viewed at sanfranciscobayferry.com/new-schedules.
WETA’s Pandemic Recovery Program is 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 Recovery Program also includes lower fares on all routes for one year. These lower fares go into effect alongside the new schedules on July 1.
“As the region continues to emerge from the pandemic, these new schedules reflect our commitment to making San Francisco Bay Ferry the travel option of choice for as many people as possible,” said Seamus Murphy, WETA’s executive director. “That means making service and fare changes designed to attract new riders and it means putting service in place early so that it’s there to support ridership demand as it increases.”
Among the highlights of the new schedules released today:
- Weekend service on the Vallejo, Oakland & Alameda and Richmond routes resumes on Saturday, July 3
- Weekday Richmond ferry service doubles, from 12 daily departures prior to the pandemic to 24 under the new schedules
- The new Oakland & Alameda route features eight direct trips between Oakland and Downtown San Francisco during peak commute periods, up from just one before the pandemic
- The new Alameda Seaplane route debuts July 1 with 10 daily departures to Downtown San Francisco
- Daily departures on the Harbor Bay route increase from 15 prior to the pandemic to 23
WETA staff has worked closely with its contract operator Blue & Gold Fleet to maximize service levels in the most cost-efficient manner. WETA projects to increase ferry service hours by 54 percent in the 2021-22 fiscal year while reducing the cost of delivering that service on a unit basis by 27 percent. This is done through a projected 59 percent reduction in non-revenue service hours, achieved through largely increased off-peak departures.
WETA reduced San Francisco Bay Ferry service levels significantly in March 2020 and has continued to offer only limited weekday service over the past 14 months as the COVID-19 crisis drastically reduced transportation demand in the region. San Francisco Bay Ferry daily ridership remains 88 percent below seasonal averages. However as the region continues to re-open, ferry ridership has more than doubled since January 2021. The month of April saw the system’s highest average daily ridership since February 2020 and May is currently on pace to eclipse that.
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.