Temporary Lower Fares and Enhanced Schedules for San Francisco Bay Ferry Coming in July

SAN FRANCISCO | April 2, 2021 – The San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) Board of Directors on Thursday adopted a proposal that includes temporary lower fares and an enhanced schedule for its San Francisco Bay Ferry service. Changes will begin to take effect in July 2021.

WETA’s Pandemic Recovery Program is designed to incentivize the return of riders to the system, to accommodate expected changes in travel patterns, and to attract a new, diversified ridership base as the region’s economy continues to reopen.

“This is a bold, equity-driven plan to rebuild ridership and maximize the the ferry network’s contribution to regional economic recovery,” said Jim Wunderman, Chair of the WETA Board of Directors. “Anyone who has ridden San Francisco Bay Ferry knows it’s the best way to cross the Bay. With lower fares and improved schedules, it’s getting even better.”

Temporary lower fares that will go into effect on July 1, 2021 have been posted at sanfranciscobayferry.com/recovery. The lower fares are temporary and would be in effect for one year as a promotion to spur ridership. During that year, WETA will closely monitor ridership data and will evaluate options for the system’s longer term fare structure. If no new action is taken, WETA’s fares will revert to pre-pandemic levels.

New schedules are expected to be released in May and will phase in beginning in July. Until July, current schedules and fares on the Vallejo, Richmond and Alameda/Oakland routes will remain in effect.

The schedule changes approved today include the resumption of weekend ferry service for Vallejo, Alameda, Oakland and Richmond in July. Weekday service on the Harbor Bay route will also resume in July. The Seaplane Shift, a major restructuring of Alameda and Oakland ferry commute service to San Francisco, will go into effect in August. This will serve as the launch of the new Alameda Seaplane route, an improved Alameda Short Hop schedule and will provide robust direct Oakland commute service to San Francisco for the first time ever.

New weekday schedules will provide additional flexibility for passengers by increasing the number of midday and late evening departures. This change, in addition to lower fares, will expand access to the ferry system for transit-dependent riders and those who travel outside the peak commute period.

A survey conducted by WETA in February 2021 found that the current ferry ridership is more ethnically diverse and less likely to own a car than the pre-pandemic ridership. The percentage of San Francisco Bay Ferry passengers with an annual household income of less than $50,000 increased from 6% in 2017 to 19% in 2021. These shifts are consistent with those experienced by other regional transit systems during the COVID-19 crisis as essential workers continue to rely on transit while some sectors of the workforce have shifted to a remote work paradigm.

WETA joined the regional means-based fare discount program Clipper START in late 2020. This program offers a 50% fare discount to eligible participants with an annual household income no more than 200% of the federal poverty line. Those discounts will be enhanced by the new temporary fares, with Clipper-based discount programs now being based off of the ferry system’s Clipper fare.

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.

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