bold nyc plan offers inspiration for expanding bay area ferry service

The Bay Area isn’t alone in its push to expand ferry service. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio this week (June 15) announced a massive $325 million ferry expansion plan that news reports dubbed one of the “biggest bets any city in the world has made on boats as vehicles for mass transit.” The announcement comes as the Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA), which operates the San Francisco Bay Ferry system, makes progress on its own strategic plan for expanding regional water transit service. You can bet we’ll be keeping a close eye on the Big Apple as de Blasio works to launch a fleet of new boats by June 2017. And the Council’s Water Transit Committee is planning to invite San Francisco-based Hornblower Cruises and Events, which has been chosen to carry out de Blasio’s plan, to hear how it’s going to meet the aggressive timeline and see what lessons we can learn.

New York City’s ferry expansion is a response to subway lines bursting at the seams, exploding job growth along the waterfront, and more people commuting from outer boroughs. These challenges are exactly why the Bay Area Council is advocating for the speedy delivery of a more robust regional water transit network that will provide a viable commute alternative to our strained highways and transit systems, and serve a growing number of waterfront job centers and housing developments. Among the big challenges to expanding ferry service here is finding funding. The Council is actively engaged in the effort to identify new regional funding sources for water transportation to deliver a service that is relevant and convenient for today’s commuters around the Bay Area. As well, incorporating the use of growing private water taxi service. To engage in the Council’s water transit policy work, please contact Policy Manager Emily Loper.

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