Can Private Ferry Service from Emeryville Marina to SF “disrupt” our commute?

Published On March 9, 2016 | By Rob Arias | News & Commentary, Transit

Years ago, Emeryville was served by a network of trolley cars that connected to ferry terminals known as the Key System. This was discontinued in 1948 when the popularity of the automobile in tandem with our new bridge infrastructure took over and the system was ultimately “replaced” by AC Transit.

These days if you want to take the Ferry to SF, you have to backtrack to the Jack London Square Terminal. This could all change if a proposed private service from our Emeryville Marina called Prop SF takes off.

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Before the Bay Bridge was erected, the Key System trains linked to a Ferry terminal at the end of the landfill spit where passengers boarded ferries to SF (Source: FoundSF.org).

first_electric_train

Train service across the Bay Bridge ran from 1938 to 1958 when the lower deck was converted for auto traffic (Source: BayBridgeInfo.org).

Currently, Emeryville makes do with our Emery Go-Round and the AC Transit TransBay service. Emeryville is surrounded by highways making access to them convenient … but we’re also surrounded by the Bay and it’s an untapped resource for easing the congestion on our taxed highway infrastructure and BART system. Taking the ferry offers an appealing alternative to being in a cramped BART car or bumper-to-bumper traffic. The beautiful ride across our picturesque bay is a tranquil alternative to beginning or ending one’s work day.

KTVU correspondent Ken Wayne recently profiled what the station called a “Transportation Revolution on the Bay” in a recent news segment. Operator and East Bay resident James Jaber is looking to disrupt the public system that has been slow to react to the public demand for expansion. “We’ve all tried to figure out why there aren’t more ferry routes and it’s unfortunate for the area at large but it’s also created the opportunity for Prop,” he tells Wayne.

Prop SF is already operating a private charter exclusively for a large anonymous tech company, but is looking to expand this service to the public. Prop SF’s more nimble 36-passenger Catamarans are capable of operating out of smaller marinas like Emeryville’s.

Would this be a more appealing view than a bumper or fellow BART passenger’s armpit?

A photo posted by @prop_sf on

One-way trips to SF would typically be 10-13 minutes and cost $10. Their early plans are to run three morning & evening runs that would take passengers near SF’s Ferry building and eventually all the way to Redwood City. Prop SF is hoping to launch this Summer and are also working on a way to make reservations through a mobile app.

The demand might eventually necessitate a better connection with our Emery Go-Round Watergate Express line that currently bypasses other parts of our city (or even speed up the proposed EBOT streetcar plan).

Learn more about their plans on PropSF.net or follow their progress on Instagram or Facebook.


Expanded ferry service in the works for San Francisco Bay

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One thing everyone can agree on in the Bay Area is that the traffic is horrible. Some new figures back that up.

92-million cars a year cross the Bay Bridge, up 3 percent in the last five years. 40 million cross the Golden Gate, up 4 percent.125 million riders a year take BART; up 25 percent in that same time period.

But there’s a place where there’s almost no traffic: on the San Francisco Bay.

The problem is that the few ferry boats that now operate on The Bay are packed.

Kevin Connolly is the manager of planning and development for the Water Emergency Transportation Authority, or WETA, which overseas ferry service between San Francisco and Vallejo, Oakland and Alameda.

“We’re carrying 400 people on a trip and we’re leaving people behind,” he tells KTVU.

Read More on KTVU.com →


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About The Author

is a third generation Californian and East Bay native who moved to Emeryville in 2003. A new parent in the community, he can often be seen walking his French Bulldog rescue "Fiona" around his Park Avenue District neighborhood, traversing the greenway on his bike or enjoying his favorite Emeryville small businesses. Rob's "day job" is as a creative professional.

13 Responses to Can Private Ferry Service from Emeryville Marina to SF “disrupt” our commute?

  1. Anonymous says:

    I support this.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I would advocate improving our existing commute options (I.e. An emg that runs on time and a wider schedule) before subsidizing private and expensive alternative forms of commute. However, I take no issue with it being an option that exists and not benefiting from an altered emg service route

    • Rob says:

      I’m not aware of any public subsidies being provided but we plan on covering this is more depth when we get closer to launch and we’ll inquire.

      • Anonymous says:

        Thanks. This was in response to “The demand might eventually necessitate a better connection with our Emery Go-Round Watergate Express line that currently bypasses other parts of our city (or even speed up the proposed EBOT streetcar plan).”Sounded like potential for adding more service to the EMG line

  3. Nina Taylor says:

    We should bring back the ferries…..cost should be under $10, unless that us for a round trip….one should be able to show up WITHOUT a reservation….especially from a ‘mobile application’

  4. Evillian says:

    This is a great idea but $100/week is a bit steep

  5. Anonymous says:

    Not accurate. There is a LOT of boat traffic around Redwood City, and this ferry totally disregards this boat traffic that has existed for over 40 years. It flies through way above the speeds of ALL other boat traffic, does not stay on the correct side in the shipping channel, aims directly at small boats, etc.

    There is also a marine wildlife sanctuary on one side of the channel, that includes seals and a baby seal nursery very close to the ferry’s path. The speeds, noise, wakes, etc from this ferry are NOT compatible with the wildlife.

    This ferry is a MENACE

  6. A1957 says:

    I support this effort too, but there is no way if can sustain itself at $10 each way. At 36 passengers, assuming it’s full BOTH ways, that’s only $720 per round trip. This will not pay for fuel, insurance, wages, berth fees, boat maintenance without subsidies. My guess is the “anonymous tech company” is paying way more for there private service.
    And what about parking near the marina in Emeryville? You can say people will take public transport to the ferry but we all know some won’t.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I support this, too. But wouldn’t it be better to connect the Powell EGR line to it than the Watergate Exp? since the Powell hits more places in the city it could collect more ferry passengers than the WEXP could, unless its route is being changed. Besides, both already turn around in the marina parking lot.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Any idea what’s going on with them? I’d been a daily rider for dec and jan and then at the end of jan i got an email saying they were taking the boat out of service for maintenance. This after a mysterious, official-looking stranger rode the boat two days earlier. The boat, however, has been sitting at the dock in the Eville marina for the last two weeks. Doesn’t appear to be any maintenance going on. Hmmmm…

    • Rob Arias says:

      I reached out to them but they did not provide me a timetable. The “official” looking guy you mentioned was a transit authority agent from another state checking out their service apparently. I’ll let you know if I hear anything!

  9. Anonymous says:

    I would love a ferry alternative. Iam exploring other options than driving to the Marin headlands for work. My current schedule doesnt match with current ferry services. I could use the ferry in the late afternoon from S.F. and if they ran from Eville early enough(5:30) I would ride then also.

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