for Richmond: What Now?
report was commissioned by the City of Richmond to study the
issue of ferry service for Richmond. It was prepared by the
consulting firm Booz∑Allen & Hamilton Inc. with John Eells
Francisco Bay Area communities, the City of Richmond presents a
unique a mix of development, economic and transportation
opportunities. Less than eight nautical miles north of San
Francisco, Richmond is located at the western extreme of Contra
Costa County, on a cape separating central San Francisco Bay and
San Pablo Bay. Richmond enjoys expansive views of the North Bay,
as well as a warmer climate and less fog than most Bay-side
communities. An abundance of waterfront includes both
un-developed and developed properties, with deep-water access,
cargo handling and vessel repair facilities. As a historical
freight terminal, Richmond is served by two Class 1 railroads.
Richmond is also served by Interstate Highways 80 and 580,
providing connection with western Contra Costa County and the
central Bay Area, as well as direct connection to Marin County
via the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. Public transportation
services to Richmond include BART, AC Transit and scheduled
interstate and intercity corridor passenger rail services.
Richmondís economy has been focussed on heavy industry,
maritime construction, petroleum refining, manufacturing, and
freight transportation. Over the last decades, as heavy industry
has declined, Richmond has not enjoyed the prosperity and growth
that have come to characterize the greater Bay Area. Today,
however, precipitous increases in Bay Area property values and
living costs have increased Richmondís appeal as a location
for new businesses and residents.
direction of its elected leadership and staff, Richmond has
fostered a remarkable transformation of its waterfront. Heavy
industrial properties are being re-developed for high technology
and other commercial uses, bringing new jobs to the City.
Concurrently, residential and service business development is
creating new communities around the waterfront. Recreation and
entertainment destinations, including a new national historic
park, may further increase Richmondís attraction to visitors.
undergoing an economic transformation.
metamorphosis introduces key considerations for those who plan
and implement the communityís change. In particular,
transportation is among the leading issues associated with
Richmondís development, as it is for the entire Bay Area. New
businesses depend on convenient access for their employees,
clientele and operations. Likewise, residents require convenient
transportation within Richmond and to the rest of the Bay Area.
Water Transit Experience
and economic growth accelerate in the Bay Area, new means of
mobility are increasingly necessary. Alternatives to automobile
transportation are needed to mitigate congestion and pollution.
Water transit, vital to the Bay Area from the mid-Nineteenth
through the mid-Twentieth Century, has again become an appealing
is a key to the communityís vitality and quality of life.
Bay could only be crossed by ferry until the construction of
highway and rail bridges between the 1930ís and 1960ís. The
BART transbay tube further obviated the need for water transit.
Nevertheless, in response to local congestion and desire for
alternative commute modes, new ferry services have been
established. The 1998 Loma Prieta Earthquake presented a crucial
need for ferry service while the San Francisco-Oakland Bay
Bridge was under repair, leading to several start-ups. Ferry
operations currently serve commute markets between San Francisco
and Alameda, Oakland, Sausalito, Larkspur, and Vallejo.
Additional recreational markets exist for ferry transportation
to state and national parks and sports facilities, and for
among the cities served by emergency ferry services following
the 1989 earthquake. With the restoration of the Bay Bridge
however, the ridership and the viability of the Richmond ferry
service quickly declined. More recently, ferry service was
provided by the Red & White Fleet, a San Francisco excursion
and charter operator, via an agreement with the City of
Richmond. Because fare revenue did not sufficiently cover
operating costs, the operator was allowed to terminate the
service under the terms of the agreement.
not proven its sustainable viability.
of the Red & White fleet service has demonstrated several
essential factors of water transitís success. Principal among
these is the realization that while travel time and cost are as
important to ferry patrons as they are to other travelers, they
are by no means the only considerations that attract riders. To
base patronage and revenue forecasts on travel time and cost
alone is to ignore many other intangibles that contribute to the
appeal of water transit, such as comfort, relaxation, and
amenities. The Red & White experience has further
illustrated the vital importance of convenient intermodal
connections, marketing, and passenger information systems in
generating a viable ridership.
support has coalesced in support of ferry service.
lessons learned from the recent ferry experience, there are
still questions regarding the benefits of such a service to the
City of Richmond. The essential question is: What are the
rationales, including economic development, quality of life,
transportation, and public perception, for providing ferry
service between Richmond and San Francisco? Such rationales may
comprise a business case aimed at achieving a number goals,
Richmond needs a
rationale Ė a business case Ė for implementing new ferry
Encouraging and focusing commercial and residential development
on the Richmond waterfront;
Fostering positive public perception of the community;
Imparting a maritime character to the community; and
Improving transportation options and quality of life for
and Richmondís Development
case for Richmond water transit should represent a synergy
between public and private interests in the cityís
development. Given the competition among transportation planning
and operating authorities in the Bay Area, a new competitor such
as Richmond would face tremendous challenges in securing capital
and operating funds. Among these challenges is the demonstration
of a compelling need for Richmond water transit, particularly
according to the viability standards applied to all new starts.
Much greater potential exists via liaison with existing
transportation entities for the development and institution of
new service. Development and business interests have invested in
Richmond, and convenient transportation can increase the appeal,
value and scope of their investments. An equally vital liaison
is that between the City and the public proponents of water
transit, a constituency possessed of commitment, talent, and
tenacity. In building these liaisons, the City of Richmond can
foster communication and understandings, and help build
consensus regarding the goals and benefits of water transit.