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San Francisco Bay Ferries Are Reaching Capacity

LARKSPUR (KPIX 5) -- The rush to catch a Bay Area ferry is getting more crowded by the day.

"I'm really sorry; we've reached Coast Guard capacity. The next boat is at 7:50 a.m.," says a ferry worker.

Welcome to morning rush hour at the Larkspur Ferry Terminal.

The boats have gotten so popular that the morning and evening commutes are sold out, often leaving riders waiting.

Some of Golden Gate Ferry's routes are hitting capacity, which means some commuters are out of luck until the next boat rolls in.

The parking lots are full. Many of the boats are full. So for some, riding the Larkspur ferry can be a frustrating experience. But, there is some hope ahead.

The process is now underway to accommodate more riders.

Ferry rider Molly MacDonald said, "Sometimes there's so many people I can't make the ferry."

Tome Underdown is also a regular ferry rider. He said on Tuesday the ferry was sold out and he had to wait for the next one.

Some 5,500 people ride the route each day. And the crunch isn't just on board, it's in the parking lot as well.

SMART train construction has closed the overflow lot, eliminating about 300 spaces for commuters and forcing the Golden Gate Bridge District to get creative to get people there.

Golden Gate Bridge District spokeswoman Priya Clemens said, "We are starting a new demonstration project that tries a new shuttle to see if we can get people to the ferry without having to park there."

That shuttle will run from the Smith Ranch Road's park and ride to the ferry terminal.

But meeting the demand of the ferry itself is another matter.

"We are limited in what we can provide. We can only make 42 trips between Larkspur and San Francisco. That may sound like a lot, but we have a lot of people who want to make that trip," Clemens said.

That's because the initial environmental review they operate under won't allow for more.

So this year, for the first time, the bridge district will look at expanding the number of trips it makes across the bay.

If approved, it won't happen overnight, but with the increased demand once SMART arrives, riders say it'll be worth the wait.

"It's definitely needed," said Underdown.

"The ferry is really busy and crowded, they need to have more ferries," MacDonald said.

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