East Bay commuters, and folks who just love riding on boats, are one step closer to having a new ferry line from Richmond to San Francisco.
The Water Emergency Transportation Authority entered an agreement Thursday with the Contra Costa Transportation Authority to secure initial funds for a commuter ferry service that is expected to be ready to sail in 2018.
The agreement guarantees roughly $38 million over 10 years for the operating costs of the new line. However, WETA still needs to secure between $42 million and $46 million in capital funds for boats and a new terminal in Richmond.
Those funds have been identified in state and federal grants, according to WETA Executive Director Nina Rannells, but still need to be obtained for the project to be completed.
“This is a huge milestone in moving this project forward,” said Rannells. “To me it was a green light that this would be a reality. Now we just have to move on to the next phase of work.”
WETA was also eyeing services from San Francisco to Berkeley and Treasure Island, which the agency still hopes to complete in the next decade. However, Richmond showed the most promise for ridership and financial sustainability, according to Rannells.
The trip will take roughly 30 minutes and cost passengers between $6 and $8 each way. WETA already operates routes serving Oakland, Alameda, Alameda's Bay Farm Island, Vallejo and South San Francisco.
“With the rebound of the economy and the growth of the Bay Area, I think everyone is seeing BART and the bridges and freeways are increasing in congestion,” said Rannells. “Our biggest challenge is that we don’t have enough boats to keep up with demand.”