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WTA ferries may connect Redwood City to East Bay

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  • 11/30 San Mateo Independent
    Published Saturday, November 30, 2002, in the Redwood City Independent Ferries may connect Redwood City to East Bay WTA s system would be largest in world By
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 30, 2002
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      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
      Independent Newspapers

      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
      years now."

      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.]
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