This week, the Bay Area Council’s Water Transit Committee met with Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco), who reported on opportunities to fund a rapid expansion of our region’s water transit system to help tackle our traffic crisis.  He called on the committee – a broad and vocal constituency of companies pushing for expedited expansion – to further generate public support which will help with the political advocacy to secure new funds. Ridership on the Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) has skyrocketed in recent years, and we’re also witnessing the emergence of the private commuter operator industry as BAC members Tideline and PROP SF are offering commute services to new locations around the bay.

Tideline announced this week that they are launching their new public commuter ferry service from Berkeley to San Francisco on Friday (today). The service provides a welcome commute alternative in the particularly strained I-80 corridor, which is consistently ranked the most congested freeway segment in the region. See the Tideline schedule>>

The committee also heard a presentation from Red and White Fleet and Sandia National Laboratories about the recent findings from their study examining the technical, regulatory, and economic feasibility of creating a zero-emission, high-speed passenger ferry powered solely by hydrogen fuel cells. The study concluded that it is possible to operate a zero-emission high speed passenger ferry on the bay, even on long routes to Vallejo and Redwood City. However, the technology would require more capital and fuel costs upfront, but a zero-emission vessel could qualify for public funds to promote the environmental health of the Bay Area. While it is currently expensive and energy-intensive to produce liquid hydrogen, an increased demand for hydrogen fuel would accelerate production and drive down the cost. The Bay Area Council has been a vocal advocate for integrating new clean propulsion technologies to improve the environmental sustainability of ferries.  To engage in the Council’s Water Transit Work, please contact Policy Manager Emily Loper.

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