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COVID Reopening: Push To Expand Ferry Service, Add New Routes In Oakland

OAKLAND (KPIX) -- As the Bay Area emerges from the pandemic, people are turning to public transportation to get around. BART is ramping up to a full schedule and now one Oakland City Councilmember wants ferry services to expand. Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan wants to increase the frequency of the ferries and add new routes.

"I think it will be good to expand the service," said tourist Talib Coffield. "It's a really good way to get across the Bay from San Francisco."

"For me, it's a good way to get there without the hassle of the bridge," said John Klimeck, who lives in Oakland.

Visitors and residents enjoy the ferry ride to and from Oakland. On July 1, the Water Emergency Transportation Authority started offering a direct 25-minute ride from Oakland to San Francisco.

Thomas Hall, a WETA Spokesperson says, "We don't want people to get into their cars after this pandemic. We want them to try public transit and especially the ferry."

In 2016, WETA developed a 20-year strategic plan to expand service, looking to add ferry terminals from Redwood City to Mission Bay.

But there is one large hurdle. The funding. Regional Measure 3 passed by voters in 2018 is still in litigation as an anti-tax group argues the one dollar toll increase at 7 Bay Area bridges is a local tax since it would fund programs unrelated to bridges. Therefore not getting the 2/3 vote required under state law to pass.

"If the courts do uphold the voters vote in 2018 and unlock some of that money, that can potentially fuel a lot of the expansion we talked about," says Hall.

WETA says it is also closely monitoring the Howard Terminal Ballpark proposal and have been in preliminary talks with the A's. The terminal is just blocks away from the proposed site.

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