WETA Adopts Core Principles to Guide Ferry System Recovery

SAN FRANCISCO | February 4, 2021 – The San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) Board of Directors today adopted a set of 13 core principles to guide the agency’s recovery planning for San Francisco Bay Ferry service as the region continues to manage impacts of the COVID-19 crisis.

The core principles include:

  • Enhancing equity and access to ferry service for Bay Area residents, including expanding access for transit-dependent riders
  • Phasing in increased service levels and competitive fares to incentivize demand and support the region’s economic recovery
  • Pursuing coordinated fare strategies and better connectivity with other Bay Area transit operators

The complete list of 13 core principles can be found at the end of this release.

“These core principles show our commitment to rebuilding San Francisco Bay Ferry service in a way that enhances the relevance of the service to all of the communities we serve and better integrates within the regional network,” said Jim Wunderman, Chair of the WETA Board of Directors. “Ferries are vital for a healthy Bay Area transportation network, and our goal is to build our system back better than ever.”

WETA plans to present its draft service plan and fare program to the public and its Board of Directors in March 2021.

In March 2020, WETA responded to Bay Area shelter-in-place orders and plummeting ridership caused by the COVID-19 crisis by reducing service levels substantially. These service reductions allowed WETA to reduce expenses while keeping a ready fleet and skilled maritime workforce available to meet its emergency response mission, if necessary. The continuation of baseline ferry service assisted essential travel across the Bay.

To help offset revenue losses due to reduced ridership, WETA has received $17 million in federal emergency relief funds.

Core Principles for WETA Pandemic Recovery Program

Adopted by the WETA Board of Directors on February 4, 2021

  1. Proceed with phased service increases throughout the WETA system in FY2022, to reflect continued return-to-work and the widespread restart of the Bay Area economy.
  2. Set fares to be competitive with comparable regional transit options.
  3. Work with other transit operators to explore coordinated fare strategies.
  4. Develop programs and initiatives that complement and reinforce the goals of the Clipper START program, to expand access to the ferry for disadvantaged communities and to enhance equity.
  5. Pursue options for enhancing service outside of traditional peak periods in recognition that off-peak service can make the system more relevant for a transit dependent market of riders with travel patterns that are not oriented around traditional office work schedules.
  6. Develop service schedules that could ultimately be expanded to achieve the goals of 15- and 30-minute frequencies systemwide.
  7. Adapt fare products, fare media, and fare payment processes to reflect shifts in work schedules, travel patterns, and passenger expectations.
  8. Prioritize ridership growth and acknowledge that systemwide and route-specific farebox recovery targets are unlikely to be met during recovery.
  9. Improve and encourage better connectivity to local bus service and other feeder services, preserve and expand transfer incentives with local bus services and other first/last mile modes, and coordinate schedules with local operators.
  10. Explore pilot programs and trial initiatives that may encourage ridership and broaden ferry service to a wider cross section of riders.
  11. Deliver more for less by maximizing the efficiency of crews, overall system service design, and strategic deployment of vessels.
  12. Be flexible and continually monitor performance to adjust and modify as demand shifts over time.
  13. Commit to transparent communication with WETA riders, stakeholders, peer transit operators, and the general public.


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