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San Francisco Bay Ferry plots major expansion, going electric by 2050

A large blue and white ferry on calm water with a cloudy sky, near a waterfront with buildings and palm trees.
The agency's board adopted the 2050 Service Vision, which sets standards for adding existing ferry routes and identifying new markets for waterborne public transportation. | Source: Ray Saint Germain/Bay City News

The San Francisco Bay Ferry system unveiled an ambitious 25-year plan to enhance and expand water transit across the region while transitioning to an all-electric fleet by 2050.

The agency's board of directors adopted the 2050 Service Vision, which sets standards for adding existing ferry routes and identifying new markets for waterborne public transportation. Four near-term expansion opportunities target Berkeley, Mission Bay, Redwood City and Treasure Island.

"There is strong interest in the expansion of the network," Jim Wunderman, chair of the ferry board, said in a press release. "This vision reflects our commitment to aggressively pursue a new golden age of ferries in the Bay Area."

A map showing the San Francisco Bay Ferry's proposed routes with symbols for terminals and routes.
The San Francisco Bay Ferry's 2050 Service Vision maps out a network of new ferry landings and water transit options throughout the region. | Source: San Francisco Bay Ferry

Longer-term target cities for ferry expansion include Martinez, Pittsburg, Antioch, Hercules, Foster City and South San Francisco, the agency announced this week. The plan also proposes a direct East Bay-Marin service, frequent Alameda-Oakland crossings and a pilot program to assess emerging technologies.

In a nod to the effects of climate change, the policy mandates a transition to zero-emission vessels powered by renewable electricity. The agency has already secured $117 million to begin electrifying its fleet of 17 vessels, 13 of which, officials say, already meet strict emissions standards while running on renewable diesel.

Shipyard contracts for the first five electric ferries are expected by year's end.