Blogging Bayport Alameda

March 22, 2017

Slow boat to SF

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:02 am

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.

From SF Gate:

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.



  1. It seems logical that expanding ferry service is cheaper than expanding BART, but logic doesn’t always pan out in these debates, in this instance because BART’s capacity is so much greater. Has there been a study (a credibly un-biased one) that compares the per rider cost of expanding one vs the other?

    Also, I’ve always thought a 5AM or so boat would get decent ridership by finance people working NY hours.

    Comment by dave — March 22, 2017 @ 6:25 am

    • I think the problem in the ferry v. Bart discussions is that the ferry doesn’t often serve the “last mile” to work or home. Bart has a little more stretch on the work end because of the multiple stops in San Francisco. The ferry on the SF or Oyster Point side is a fixed location so is reliant on people being situated close to the terminal or willing to use another form of transportation once there.

      In a totally non scientific survey I have been told that the ferry is preferable to Bart because there’s not the whole packed sardine issue.

      Comment by Lauren Do — March 22, 2017 @ 6:33 am

      • If I commuted to SF I’d choose the ferry simply because it’s nice & more comfortable, even if more expensive & much less convenient. Topside on a sunny afternoon is a great way to decompress after work.

        Comment by dave — March 22, 2017 @ 6:37 am

        • Plus booze. I hear the PM booze is a big plus.

          Comment by Lauren Do — March 22, 2017 @ 6:44 am

        • Selection needs major upgrade. Beer choices OK, wine & liquor choices are third rate.

          Comment by dave — March 22, 2017 @ 6:50 am

  2. The MV Hydrus will replace the Encinal on the Alameda/Oakland/SF route in early April. Note that the Hydrus is the first of 7 new commuter vessels WETA will place into service within the next 3 years. There will be 4 Hydrus class vessels (27 knot 400 passenger 50 bike) and 3 high speed North Bay vessels (34 knot, 400+ passenger 50 bike).

    Comment by epsanchez — March 22, 2017 @ 11:38 am

  3. I am riding the Target shuttle to BART currently because I work out in the morning at Mariners Square before work and it is convenient , but I am gratefully leaving Mariners Square after giving them a month notice and will start riding the 6am ferry and work out at 24 hour fitness again before work. I am excited they have a new ferry which will hold everyone. The nice thing about the ferry you make friends with people you commute with everyday, whereas, on BART and AC Transit you rarely see the same people or strike up a conversation.

    They just initiated a rule on the Target shuttle that there is no more standing so if all the seats are full you have to wait 1/2 hour until the next shuttle. By the time people start moving in the remaining houses the low income housing units, they will be fighting to get there in time so they can get a seat. They are either going to have to get a bigger shuttle or run more of them. Most shuttles let you stand as long as they have handles to hold on to.

    Comment by joelsf — March 22, 2017 @ 10:13 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Create a free website or blog at