Because of the Bart strike a lot of people were forced to use the ferry as an alternative to Bart. According to the most recent WETA report after that surge in ridership due to the Bart strike, the ferries in Alameda have been able to maintain the ridership.
And just so you can see those ridership numbers here is the table comparing all the ferry lines. Obviously the South San Francisco one sees the lowest ridership numbers, probably because transportation on the South San Francisco end is pretty spotty compared to the San Francisco Ferry Terminal.
The increase though from February 2014 to March 2014 is rather impressive for the Alameda/Oakland line. There was a nearly 70% jump in ridership. Which brings Alameda/Oakland’s numbers very close to the Vallejo line’s which includes bus ridership and uses a whole lot more fuel to move a similar number of passengers.
From the Executive Director report:
Both ferry terminals in Alameda have experienced a surge in ridership beginning with the first BART strike in July 2013. As a result, parking at both terminals typically spills onto adjacent streets and informal parking lots. WETA will partner with the City of Alameda staff to prepare plans to address the immediate issue and identify long term solutions. Staff has secured the consultant services of Nelson Nygaard through its on-call planning agreement with KPFF, Inc. to support the project.
After hosting a pair of public workshops in March, staff and the consultant team have been developing and analyzing potential access improvement concepts suggested by riders and other stakeholders. Staff has been invited to attend the Alameda Transportation Commission meeting on May 28 to discuss the study and the ferry service in general. The next steps in the study are to engage the City of Alameda, which has jurisdiction over streets and neighboring city-owned parcels. Another round of public workshops will be scheduled for June
While that is sort of a short term solution idea, WETA will also be examining future service plans for the possible Seaplane Lagoon relocation of Alameda’s ferry services:
City staff has requested that WETA conduct necessary studies to better understand the capital and operating cost associated with a Seaplane Lagoon terminal.
The transition agreement between the City and WETA states that staff from the City and WETA “shall in good faith work with each other and the Seaplane Lagoon master developer or other developer(s)…to explore the viability of Bifurcated Services”. The term “bifurcated services” refers to the possibility that Oakland and West Alameda will be served by separate vessels and crews, as opposed to today’s arrangement where the sites are served by a single vessel making two stops before heading to/from San Francisco.
Staff requested on-call consultants currently under contract with WETA to develop work scopes and cost estimates to conduct two studies: a sketch-level design sufficient to develop order of magnitude costs and an operational study to analyze the costs and service implications of an additional terminal or a replacement terminal in the central bay Alameda/Oakland service. This second study would require the participation of not just the City of Alameda but the City of Oakland and even AC Transit. City of Alameda
staff has reviewed the proposals for these two efforts and their comments have been incorporated into the final work scopes. The next steps are to schedule a meeting among staff at the cities of Alameda and Oakland to discuss funding the studies and a process to conduct the analyses.
I know that the ferry may take a little more time (and more money) than other transportation options, but I know that people who use it really enjoy the experience because it’s really relaxing. It’s really good to see the numbers rising and I wonder if the switch to the Seaplane Lagoon would be better for Alameda riders because it would shave time off some of the routes if it doesn’t need to stop in Oakland first. This table doesn’t break out the number of Alameda vs. Oakland riders, but I recall reading somewhere that the bulk of ferry riders are from Alameda.