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San Francisco-Sausalito ferry service may resume next week

People on a dock observe a ferry boat on the water.
The Golden Gate Ferry Service said Friday that its boats, which carry about 500 daily passengers—commuters and tourists alike—to and from Sausalito will be out of commission indefinitely.  | Source: Isaac Ceja/The Standard

UPDATE, April 25, 2024: As of Thursday, buses remain available in lieu of ferry service and will be transporting passengers across the Golden Gate Bridge.

In an earlier statement, the ferry agency said service was expected to resume after repair work was completed this week. On Thursday, a spokesperson told The Standard that a wait for specially fabricated steel parts for the repair would likely delay reopening into next week, with a better idea of an expected schedule by Monday, April 29.

A damaged pier at a decades-old terminal has halted ferry service between San Francisco and Sausalito—and it’s unclear when the ships will resume their back-and-forth routes across the bay. 

The Golden Gate Ferry Service said Friday that the vessels on that route, which carry about 500 daily passengers—commuters and tourists alike—will be out of commission indefinitely. 

Until the boats are up and running again, the transit agency will provide buses to take people across the Golden Gate Bridge to the bayside town in Marin County. 

Two people face the entrance to a dock to the Port of San Francisco.
People walk toward Gate B at the ferry terminal, in San Francisco. | Source: Jeremy Chen/The Standard

The damage was discovered during a routine inspection Friday afternoon, Golden Gate Ferry Services spokesperson Paolo Cosulich-Schwartz told The Standard.

The cause and extent of the damage are unclear. But he said the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District, the public agency that runs the ferries, suspended rides between Sausalito and San Francisco “in the interest of safety and out of an abundance of caution” until the pier is repaired. 

How long it’ll take to fix the pier is another open question. In 2021, that same ferry route was suspended for three months while a floating terminal walkway was removed for emergency repairs.

Cosulich-Schwartz declined to say whether the pause will last days, weeks or months. But even a days-long suspension will likely translate to a sizable dip in ticket revenue, 40% of which pays for the cost of running the ferries with the rest going into transit district coffers.

However long it takes, Cosulich-Schwartz said passengers can rest assured that buses will be offered for as long as needed in lieu of ferry trips. 

“We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience,” he added. 

The pier is part of an aging terminal slated for rehabilitation.

Last fall, Golden Gate Ferry secured a $6 million federal grant for the project, which aims to replace piers and gangways built in the 1970s and, according to the agency’s website, “have exceeded their useful life.” The project will also change out the terminal’s steel float for a concrete one and add new lighting and utilities.

Construction, which has yet to start, is expected to be completed in 2027 and to cost an estimated $22.5 million. Some of that amount will be covered by the 2023 grant, some by $4.4 million in Golden Gate Bridge toll revenues and the remaining with $12 million in federal funds.

Editor's note: An earlier version incorrectly stated that the San Francisco Bay Ferry would offer bus service until the pier is repaired. In fact, the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District will provide the in-lieu bus transport. The Standard regrets the error.

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