Gov. Newsom Reappoints Wunderman Chair of Regional Ferry Board

Gov. Gavin Newsom today announced the reappointment of Bay Area Council CEO Jim Wunderman as Chair of the Water Emergency Transportation Agency (WETA) Board of Directors, where he has served since 2020 and guided the regional ferry system through the worst of the COVID pandemic. The Council was instrumental in creating WETA and its predecessor, the Water Transportation Authority, as part of a grand vision for building a highly connected regional ferry system to ease traffic on congested Bay Area freeways, reduce carbon emissions and take pressure off other crowded transit systems.

Since former Gov. Jerry Brown first appointed Wunderman to the WETA board in 2015, the system has undergone a massive transformation, adding new routes, growing ridership and expanding the fleet. Working closely with former WETA Executive Director Nina Rannells and current Executive Director Seamus Murphy, Wunderman has helped secure millions of dollars in local, state and federal funding to support the system’s operation and expansion and steer WETA through the pandemic. Responding to the pandemic and a dramatic drop in ridership, WETA led the way among Bay Area agencies in introducing a COVID-19 Recovery Program that reduced fares and maintained or increased service levels even as other transit systems retreated. And while ridership remains below pre-pandemic levels, it has returned faster than other transit agencies.

“WETA has been an extraordinary success story for the Bay Area’s transportation system,” said Bobby Winston, a leading water transit advocate and publisher of Bay Crossings. “And WETA’s response to the pandemic under Jim’s leadership should serve as a model for other transit agencies as they work to restore ridership. We’re not out of the woods by a long shot, but the steps WETA has taken are paving the way for a faster recovery.” During Wunderman’s tenure as board Chair, WETA has taken many giant leaps forward as an agency. A few of WETA’s major accomplishments include completing its downtown San Francisco ferry terminal expansion, opening its new Alameda Seaplane terminal and route, launching initiatives to explore building new ferry terminals and routes serving Berkeley and Redwood City, opening a new terminal in Richmond, accelerating WETA’s push into zero-emission ferry boats and cutting the ribbon on a new central maintenance and operations facility. To engage in the Council’s water transit policy work, please contact Policy and Regulatory Counsel Kelly Obranowicz.

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