WTA ferries may connect Redwood City to East Bay
- Published Saturday, November 30, 2002, in the Redwood City
Ferries may connect Redwood City to East Bay
WTA's system would be largest in world
By Kathy Schrenk
REDWOOD CITY -- An ambitious plan to launch the world's largest
fleet of ferries may now include a route between Redwood City and
the East Bay.
The Bay Area Water Transit Authority accepted a revised plan for a
ferry system earlier this month, including an East Bay route that
would stop in Redwood City, in addition to the already-planned San
Francisco route stopping in the port here. This, along with an
upscale development in the area, could dramatically change the way
people commute to Redwood City.
"It's fantastic for Redwood City," said Larry Buckmaster, president
and CEO of the Redwood City-San Mateo County Chamber of Commerce.
"It'll mean a way to alleviate some of the congestion on 101," he
said. If state lawmakers approve the $662 million, 10-year plan
and Bay Area voters and elected officials agree to fund it through
a combination of increased bridge toll revenues, sales taxes and
local contributions 44 ferries could be plying the bay by 2015.
That would make it the world's largest ferry fleet, outpacing
Sydney, which operates 32 boats, according to the Water Transit
Under the authority's plan, it would operate new routes between San
Francisco and Redwood City, Oyster Point in South San Francisco and
San Francisco, San Francisco and Treasure Island, Berkeley, Hercules-
Rodeo, Richmond, and Martinez-Antioch-Pittsburg.
The regional ferry system, Water Transit Authority officials said,
would carry 12 million passengers a year by 2025 triple the
current number riding bay ferries. The authority hopes to draw most
of the new riders out of their single-occupant cars. Oracle's
Redwood Shores campus draws one quarter of its employees from San
Francisco making a water link between San Francisco and Redwood
City a big plus. In addition, "a ton" of workers in and near Redwood
City live in the East Bay, said Buckmaster.
Alternatives to auto transit options are a boon to businesses as a
recruiting tool, said Buckmaster. "Anything that will get people out
of their cars," he said. "It has been one of our priorities for two
Redwood City Port officials are also excited about the plan. In
fact, Port Director Mike Giari would like to see plans move ahead
even faster than the 10-year schedule that's been set. "We're
pleased that, based on input from us and South San Francisco, that
they've included a route between Redwood City, Oyster Point and the
East Bay," Giari said. "It absolutely makes all the sense in the
world for WTA to look at that cross bay service and put it in their
plans." Oracle has expressed interest in linking a shuttle from the
port to its offices, said Councilmember Diane Howard, chair of the
WTA Citizens Advisory Committee.
Other bayside companies and office complexes, such as Pacific Shores
and Marina Shores Village, could also benefit from the busing
"Imagine the possibility of being able to take a ferry and get right
off at work," said Howard. The ferries could also be used to take
people directly to 49er and Giants games, she said.
The ferries could also prove invaluable in a disaster, such as a
major earthquake that could disable bridges and highways. In
Howard's native New York, for instance, after the terrorist attacks,
no one could get anywhere except on the ferries, she said.
The Water Transit Authority was formed by the state Legislature in
1999 to study the need for expanded ferry service on San Francisco
Bay and to create a business plan for a regional system. A committee
of business and political leaders had earlier released a plan
calling for development of "the world's best" high-speed water
transit system with a fleet of 70 boats.
The plan also outlines the authority's intent to use less-polluting,
and eventually pollution-free, vessels on the bay. All ferries will
exceed federal air quality standards that take effect in 2007 and
will be 10 times cleaner than boats now on the bay, said Mary
Frances Cullane, the WTA's marine engineering manager.
[BATN: See http://www.watertransit.org for more info.]