WETA and Partners Welcome MV Dorado to San Francisco Bay Ferry Fleet
SAN FRANCISCO | May 26, 2022 – The San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) and its partners today celebrated the commissioning of MV Dorado, the newest high-speed passenger vessel to join the San Francisco Bay Ferry fleet.
“WETA is building a world class ferry system for the Bay Area and adding new vessels like MV Dorado helps us get there,” said Jim Wunderman, Chair of the WETA Board of Directors. “This American-made ferry enhances the capacity of our fleet and provides additional flexibility for our operations, helping ensure we run the system as efficiently as possible. It also happens to be a beautiful ferry. We thank our local, state and federal partners for their investment in San Francisco Bay Ferry service.”
WETA Vice Chair Monique Moyer led the celebration of the new vessel at the Downtown San Francisco Ferry Terminal today with representatives of partner agencies. These representatives included Shamann Walton, President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors; Alfredo Pedroza, Chair of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and Napa County Supervisor; and officials from the Port of San Francisco.
“We’re so grateful to our partners for helping us build out the San Francisco Bay Ferry fleet and system,” said Vice Chair Moyer. “Ferry ridership is on the upswing. Our ability to serve those passengers relies on investment in new vessels and terminals and support for our highly skilled maritime labor force. MV Dorado is another step toward building our ferry system out to its full potential while enhancing WETA’s emergency response capabilities.”
MV Dorado carries 320 passengers and will enter service in the coming weeks. WETA plans to rotate the vessel among its routes to collect operational data and allow passengers across the ferry system to experience the boat.
MV Dorado was built by Mavrik Marine in La Conner, Wash. Construction on the second vessel in the Dorado class, MV Delphinus, is underway. Four boats are planned for the vessel class.
- MV Dorado is the fastest vessel in WETA’s fleet with a service speed of 36 knots.
- MV Dorado is the first boat built for WETA that can safely dock at any of the system’s 12 ferry terminals.
- MV Dorado has expansive outdoor passenger space to allow more riders to experience a fresh-air trip across the Bay.
Vessel construction was funded through the Federal Transit Administration and the State of California’s Proposition 1B in collaboration with the California Office of Emergency Services.
The vessel was designed by One2Three Naval Architects. Construction management services were provided by Aurora Marine Design.
“I’m excited about yet another opportunity to provide clean, efficient, safe, and fast transportation for our Bay Area residents,” said San Francisco Board of Supervisors President Shamann Walton. “Increased ferry service continues to aid us in protecting the environment and getting people where they need to go.”
WETA and the Port of San Francisco opened the expanded Downtown San Francisco Ferry Terminal in August 2020. The $98 million project tripled ferry berthing capacity and included the construction of a new 13,000-square-foot public plaza south of the historic Ferry Building.
“Expanding ferry service and water transit options are critically important to our region,” said Elaine Forbes, Executive Director of the Port of San Francisco. “The addition of the MV Dorado to WETA’s fleet will improve the region’s public and water transportation network that provides efficient, relaxing and scenic alternatives to car transport.”
San Francisco Bay Ferry was the fastest growing transit operator in the region prior to the pandemic, with more than 3 million passengers in 2019. Between 2012 and 2019, ridership on the system doubled.
Under WETA’s Pandemic Recovery Program, which took effect in July 2021, ferry ridership is steadily growing. The Program decreased fares 30 percent across the system and enhanced service to provide more flexibility for riders. In April, ridership on San Francisco Bay Ferry reached 55 percent of pre-pandemic levels, outpacing comparable regional agencies.
“The Metropolitan Transportation Commission has long identified the San Francisco Bay Ferry service as an important regional priority,” said MTC Chair and Napa County Supervisor Alfredo Pedroza. “With the launch of the Dorado, WETA is making a great service even better.”
MV Dorado is the ninth U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Tier 4 or Tier 4 equivalent passenger ferry in WETA’s fleet. In 2017, WETA commissioned the nation’s first Tier 4 equivalent high-speed passenger ferry, MV Hydrus. In 2019, WETA commissioned the nation’s first Tier 4 certified high-speed passenger ferry, MV Pyxis. Last month, WETA re-entered MV Pisces into service after a successful conversion project replacing the vessel’s Tier 2 engines with cleaner Tier 4 engines.
WETA is expected to begin work on the agency’s first two zero-emission passenger ferries this year.