Big Week for Water Transportation

There was a lot going on over the past week in the regional water transportation (aka ferry) world. The Bay Area Council hosted a floating meeting last Friday (May 20) with Rep. John Garamendi to discuss the importance of regional water transportation in improving mobility, better connecting communities and job centers and reducing traffic and related emissions. And yesterday (May 26), the Council joined transportation, elected and community leaders in christening the newest, speediest and most energy efficient addition to the San Francisco Bay Ferry’s fast-growing regional fleet.

The meeting with Rep. Garamendi, who serves on the important House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, came at a time when there is a historic amount of new federal transportation funding available from the bipartisan infrastructure law that Congress passed last year. Rep. Garamendi joined leaders from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, and the Water Emergency Transportation Authority for a ride aboard a small-vessel ferry provided by Council member PROP SF that was made possible by Council member Wilson Meany. We traveled from the San Francisco waterfront to Treasure Island, where Wilson Meany is leading a massive mixed-use redevelopment project.

Following the ferry ride under gorgeous conditions, the Congressman led an intimate roundtable discussion with Council members at Prologis’ office on the waterfront. The Council is grateful for Rep. Garamendi’s leadership in advocating for a more sustainable future for our region by providing more equitable access to transportation options that reduce carbon emissions.

And yesterday, Bay Area Council Policy Director Emily Loper joined leaders from the Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) at christening ceremony for the MV Dorado, the the fastest and most energy efficient vessel in the SF Bay Ferry fleet, and the last diesel-powered vessel as WETA works to transition its fleet to zero emissions in the coming years.

The event featured remarks from WETA Vice Chair Monique Moyer, San Francisco Board of Supervisors President Shamann Walton, and Chair of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission Alfredo Pedroza, who all highlighted the opportunity of an expanded water transportation network to strengthen mobility, equity, and economic opportunity for communities throughout the region.

“WETA is building a world-class ferry system for the Bay Area, and adding new vessels like MV Dorado helps us get there,” said Jim Wunderman, Bay Area Council CEO and Chair of the WETA Board of Directors. “This American-made ferry enhances the capacity of our fleet and provides additional flexibility for our operations, helping ensure we run the system as efficiently as possible. It also happens to be a beautiful ferry. We thank our local, state and federal partners for their investment in San Francisco Bay Ferry service.”

The addition of the MV Dorado marks the continuing expansion of regional ferry service that the Council envisioned long ago when it played a leading role in the creation of WETA. The Council is leading the region’s advocacy to secure new funding to expand service, build new terminals, and electrify vessels in the coming years. In the coming weeks, Wunderman and WETA Director Jessica Alba and Executive Director Seamus Murphy are leading a delegation to Sweden and Norway to investigate the state of electric and other zero emission vessels and which ones may be a good fit for providing service on the Bay. To engage in the Council’s Waterfront Mobility Committee, please contact Policy Director Emily Loper.

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