Bay Area Welcomes First of Seven New Ferry Vessels

The San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) last month christened the Hydrus, the first of seven new vessels to join the San Francisco Bay Ferry fleet over the next three years.

The newest boat in San Francisco Bay Ferry’s fleet is the 135-foot Hydrus, with a capacity of 400 passengers and 50 bikes. Photo courtesy of WETA

BY BC STAFF

 

The San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) last month christened the Hydrus, the first of seven new vessels to join the San Francisco Bay Ferry fleet over the next three years. The 400-passenger vessel will officially enter service this month, serving the Central Bay routes of San Francisco to Alameda, Oakland and Harbor Bay.

 

“The Hydrus is setting the world standard for low emissions and minimized environmental impact,” said retired U.S. Coast Guard Vice Admiral Jody Breckenridge, chairperson of the WETA Board of Directors. “It has been designed for efficient, optimized operation, with features that support passenger comfort and desired amenities. We are proud to welcome this new vessel to the SF Bay Ferry fleet.”

 

The Hydrus was designed by Incat Crowther and built by Vigor, formerly Kvichak Marine. Key specifications of the $15.1 million Hydrus include:

135-foot passenger catamaran

Cruising speed: 27 knots

Capacity: 400 passengers

Bike capacity: 50

Tier III engines

Lightweight aluminum construction

Designed for high passenger on-boarding and off-boarding, critical to achieving fast turnaround time

Low noise and vibration levels for enhanced passenger comfort

Efficient, custom propellers

Low-wake hullform maximizes waterline length, which lowers resistance and enables increased speed in the Oakland estuary

 

 

The Hydrus’ funding came from the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services State Proposition 1B ($4 million); MTC Regional Measure 2 ($8.3 million); and Alameda County Transportation Commission Measure B/BB ($4.7 million).

 

Last month also marked WETA’s sixth anniversary of providing ferry service. Over the past six years, WETA has seen a 74 percent increase in ridership and now carries more than 2.7 million riders a year from nine terminals throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. To address the increased demand for ferry service, WETA is investing $465 million in assets and infrastructure—including new terminals, maintenance and operations facilities and vessels—to expand ferry service. New vessel construction is $175 million of the overall capital expenditure.

 

“The Hydrus and the six additional vessels coming into service over the next three years will help us meet the increased need for ferry service and realize our vision as set forth in the 2016 WETA strategic plan: a robust network of 44 vessels, serving five times today’s ridership by 2035, with wait times of 15 minutes or less during peak commute hours,” said Nina Rannells, WETA’s executive director.

       

WETA was established by the state legislature to operate an integrated regional ferry service, expand ferry service on the Bay and coordinate the water transit response to a regional emergency. Under the San Francisco Bay Ferry brand, WETA operates daily passenger ferry service to the cities of Alameda, Oakland, San Francisco, Vallejo and South San Francisco.

Photo by Joel Williams