A Ferry Big Deal - All aboard the Richmond ferry come January 2019
By Matt Larson
The time has come! Richmond is finally getting a ferry terminal. The first official ferry commute from Richmond to San Francisco is scheduled to launch the morning of January 10th, 2019, at 6:10 a.m. It’ll be operated by Blue & Gold Fleet under the coordination of the Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA).
Full Richmond ferry commute service will then be underway! Six round trips will be available every weekday, Monday through Friday. The earliest run from Richmond to San Francisco will be at 6:10 a.m., and the last returning run from the city will be at 6:50 p.m. Weekend rides will come eventually, but to start they’re sticking to peak-hour ferry service only.
“We’re really excited to be able to offer this service,” said WETA’s Public Information & Marketing Manager Thomas Hall. “We’ve seen unprecedented demand for our ferry service in Vallejo, Alameda and Harbor Bay; we expect Richmond will be popular as well once people know about it and get an opportunity to ride.”
Regardless of how bad traffic looks on the bridge, a trip on the ferry from Richmond to San Francisco will take an average of 35 minutes. “A report recently came out that showed the stretch between Hercules and downtown San Francisco was one of the worst commutes in the state/the nation,” Hall said. “So anything we can do to get folks off of I-80 through there is a big win for the entire region.”
One-way tickets will range from $4.50-$9. 362 free parking spaces will be available on a first-come basis in a lot adjacent to the terminal. Carpooling, AC Transit, or riding a bike to the terminal is encouraged. You may board the ferry with your bicycle, or there’s plenty of safe places to leave it on site. Hall also notes that for people wanting to return later in the evening, beyond the ferry’s scheduling limits, AC Transit’s Route 74 can take you directly from the Richmond BART station back to the terminal.
A team effort between WETA, the City of Richmond, the Contra Costa Transportation Authority, and the Western Contra Costa Transportation Advisory Committee, the new Richmond ferry terminal is a major accomplishment. “We’ve had so much support from the local communities,” Hall said. “Mayor Tom Butt worked really hard to make it a reality, Supervisor John Gioia has been a great help to us—this is really a proud moment.”
Located at the end of Harbour Way South, the new ferry may contribute to more tourism as well. “We’re expecting folks to utilize the ferry to get to the Craneway Pavilion, which is a fabulous event space, and the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historic Park,” Hall said. “It’s a very short walk away from the ferry terminal, so we’re excited to help bring people out to learn about Richmond’s role in WWII.” As Richmond contributed a legendary 747 ships toward the war effort, a ferry service at this location is quite the homage to the home front.
Some may have noticed that the kayak launch was relocated to make room for the terminal, but they installed a brand-new one nearby. “We built probably the nicest kayak launch in the whole Bay in Richmond,” said WETA’s Planning & Development Manager, and avid kayaker, Kevin Connolly. “It’s specifically designed to be accessible for disabled kayakers, making it easier for people with wheelchairs to move their boats on and off the facility.”
Over the next 7 years or so you can look forward to WETA introducing newer and larger vessels, some able to transport more than 400 passengers at a time, and plans are underway to add ferry service in Berkeley, Treasure Island, Redwood City, and another terminal at Alameda Point. But for now, all eyes are on Richmond.
“We expect the first few days to be a sort of party atmosphere,” Hall said. “We’re really excited to provide great service for the people of Richmond; giving them another option to get into the city, and off of the freeways.” For more information call (707) 64-FERRY or visit sanfranciscobayferry.com/richmond.