Weekday ferry service to and from South San Francisco will resume Nov. 8 following a long suspension due to the pandemic, with officials highlighting reduced fares and earlier service.
“We know that having reliable, safe transit options from the East Bay to South San Francisco as people get back to the office is important. We are really excited to resume that service,” said Thomas Hall, a spokesman with the Water Emergency Transportation Authority, the transit agency responsible for ferry service.
The weekday schedule for ferry service from the East Bay to South San Francisco will see a ferry depart from the Main Street Alameda Ferry Terminal at 6:05 a.m., 7:05 a.m., 8 a.m. and 4:25 p.m. Oakland Ferry Terminal depart times to South San Francisco are 6:20 a.m., 7:20 a.m., 8:20 a.m. and 4:10 p.m. Arrival times in South San Francisco would be 7 a.m., 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. and 5:05 p.m. Eastbound departures from South San Francisco to the East Bay will be 7:10 a.m., 3:20 p.m., 4:20 p.m. and 5:20 p.m. The South San Francisco Terminal is at 911 Marina Blvd.
WETA originally planned to resume South San Francisco service in October. However, the summer delta variant surge in COVID-19 cases led to companies pushing back return-to-office plans from October to the new year. Hall said many companies aim to have employees return to the office in January instead of October. Hall said the November service return ensures a safe and reliable public transportation option instead of only having a car option. Hall said WETA is focusing on being flexible and nimble to adjust to any other pandemic-related changes.
“We are done predicting what’s coming next,” Hall said.
The return of service and scheduling improvements are part of the 2022 Pandemic Recovery Program from WETA, which includes a service plan for lower fares across all transbay routes for one year to incentivize ridership. The WETA board approved the reductions starting in July and continuing through June 2022. Adult single-trip Clipper fares were reduced at South San Francisco to $6.75 from the pre-pandemic fare of $8.10, a 17% decrease. Alameda/Oakland, Seaplane Lagoon, Richmond and Harbor Bay have also seen fares reduced. The program increased access to ferry service and midday and night service levels to support economic recovery.
Hall said consideration of longer-term fare program changes would occur in the spring. Winter will give the WETA board more data about the long-term impact of lowering fares to incentivize riders and inform decisions about fare structures moving forward. He noted initial results were very positive.
WETA is not ruling out adding more service as funding and ridership grow. It is exploring later times and higher frequency to and from South San Francisco as the city sees continued growth, particularly near Oyster Point. WETA is also open to connecting South San Francisco and San Francisco by ferry service.
“Everything is on the table,” Hall said.
WETA is relying on federal funding this year and in the future to help with programs and services to bring back ridership at South San Francisco and in other areas.
“We wouldn’t be able to do it without federal relief funding over the past two years, including ARPA,” Hall said.
The transit agency is currently working with Redwood City and the Redwood City Port Commission on a terminal site and ferry service within the Port of Redwood City at the eastern end of Seaport Boulevard. The proposed ferry service would connect Redwood City to San Francisco and/or Oakland. Hall said the city is currently working on a business plan phase to be completed by the end of the year to determine funding needs and sources. It will take a deeper dive into details of operation, construction and financing. Hall said public terminal access issues in Redwood City are still being considered, with calls for more bike access and housing to ensure easier accessibility. In July, the office of Assembly Speaker pro Tem Kevin Mullin, D-South San Francisco, announced the state budget includes $5 million in funding for Redwood City to construct the Redwood City Ferry Terminal.
Go to sanfranciscobayferry.com/south-san-francisco-ferry-route to find more information about weekday ferry routes to and from South San Francisco.
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