Shovel Ready: Leaders Mark Key Milestone for Regional Ferry Expansion

The Bay Area Council on Thursday (Sept. 15) hailed the ground breaking for a new Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) operations and maintenance facility that will serve as a hub for the future expansion of regional ferry service. Bay Area Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman joined a group of water transit leaders, including WETA Chair Jody Breckenridge, Assemblymember Rob Bonta, WETA Executive Director Nina Rannells and former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, among other dignitaries, at a ceremony in Alameda to mark the occasion and announce the naming of the facility after water transit visionary Ron Cowan.

The construction of the Ron Cowan Central Bay Operations and Maintenance Facility (RCF) marks a major step in WETA’s near- and longer-term ferry expansion plans, and will serve as a consolidated maintenance base and operations control center for WETA’s Central Bay fleet, serving Alameda/Oakland, Alameda Harbor Bay, and South San Francisco, and future services to Richmond and Treasure Island. The $49.5 million investment is located near Pier 3 of the former Naval Air Station, now known as Alameda Point. The ceremony comes just weeks after WETA commissioned the construction of three new ferry boats that move WETA closer to almost tripling the size of its fleet by 2035.

In naming the facility after Ron Cowan, WETA recognized his leadership and vision in driving the creation of modern regional ferry service.

“Ron saw the potential for bringing back ferries as critical elements in our transportation system,” Wunderman said. “His dream – a comprehensive regional water transit system – will be reality, due in large part to his vision and dedication to the people of Alameda and commuters throughout the greater Bay Area. We are grateful to Ron for adding significantly to transbay ferry capacity and for being a fierce advocate for WETA’s role in both transportation and emergency response.”

Expanding regional ferry service is among the Council’s lead policy priorities. To engage in the Council’s water transit work, please contact Policy Manager Emily Loper.

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