As the spouse of a ferry rider who often hears about the dreaded “slow boat” the news about the new ferry boat will come with much celebration for our family’s ferry commuter.
The Hydrus, which can carry 400 passengers and 50 bikes, will go into service on the run between San Francisco, Oakland and Alameda in early April. The boat cost $15.1 million, and can clip along at 27 knots, or just over 30 miles an hour.
The Water Emergency Transportation Authority, the public agency that operates the ferry service between nine bay terminals, has shown a 74 percent increase in ferry passengers since 2012, and now carries 2.7 million customers a year. The expansion is costing a pretty penny — $465 million in capital expenses, including new terminal and maintenance facilities, and $175 million for new vessel construction.
“This boat is going to be the workhorse of the bay,” said Keith Stahnke, the authority’s operations manager. “This boat will make 15 round trips a day, about 65 mooring events where we tie up the boat and let it go. That’s a lot of work for the boat and the crew,” he said.
Of course the most important bit:
One feature commuters will like about the new boat is a new and larger snack and cocktail bar. The Hydrus will offer seven kinds of beer and eight varieties of wine, as part of an opening-of-service Happy Hour special. Coffee, the staple of the morning commute, will be $2, with free refills.
However, as awesome as the new ferry boat is — even if it doesn’t end up serving the Main Street to SF Ferry Building route at least this route hopefully won’t have the “slow boat” option if there are more boats in operation — there is still the travesty that is the pedestrian and bike connection to the Main Street ferry. Right now the only way to get to the Main Street Ferry safely on foot is to cross Main Street twice because there is no sidewalk on the ferry side of the street. If you’ve ever seen ferry runners jogging on the side of the road between the ditch, I mean bioswale, and the road you would be outraged about the lack of pedestrian infrastructure.
Additional despite the car traffic being relatively light on Main Street we have two car lanes in each direction but no bike lane after the intersection at Main and Singleton. Hopefully before the City decides to throw money at more Shoreline parks on Harbor Bay they can throw some money at infrastructure that gets people to (1) not use their cars, (2) during prime commuting hours, and (3) not through the tube.