Main Street ferry runs to increase

Main Street ferry runs to increase

Michele Ellson


Alameda’s ferry commuters will soon have more Main Street departures to choose from. A new weekday ferry scheduled set to take effect on April 28 shows additional ferry runs to and from San Francisco, and ferry officials say they’re adding some weekend trips as well.

“It’s basically doubling the service,” said Kevin Connolly, the Water Emergency Transportation Authority’s manager for planning and development.

The authority, which runs the Bay Area's ferry service, has been considering expanding service in the wake of last year’s BART strikes; Alameda’s ferries are now carrying 30 percent more riders than they did before the strikes. The new weekday service will run every 30 to 35 minutes between 6 a.m. and 9:45 a.m., rather than hourly, and will include a new 4:30 p.m. return trip from San Francisco’s Ferry Building.

The authority will also expand weekend service, adding two to three new round trips to the schedule of nine currently in place, marketing manager Ernest Sanchez said. He said the weekend schedule is still being finalized but could be available next week.

The changes are officially in effect through October 31, though Sanchez said that they’ll likely be permanent. He said the Alameda/Oakland ferry schedule hasn’t been changed in five or six years.

The additional runs should make it easier for commuters to catch a ferry, Connolly said.

“This idea is, if you miss it, it’s not as big of a disaster. At least you know something’s coming along in 30 minutes,” he said.

In addition to increased ridership, Connolly said the authority is adding service at Main Street and in Oakland because both places have parking available to accommodate more riders. The Main Street lot has 328 spaces, he said, and hundreds more are available on Main Street and at the Albert H. DeWitt Officer’s Club on Alameda Point.

Still, the ferry authority is in talks with AC Transit; they’d like the bus agency to restore bus service to the Main Street terminal.

“They’re hoping this effort is going to reveal some things,” Connolly said.

The authority is also looking into existing shuttle services and their capacity to serve the Main Street terminal. Alameda provided shuttle service to both of the Island’s ferry terminals during the BART strikes.

The authority is studying access to both its Alameda ferry terminals, and is holding the second of two planned meetings to gather public input on access to the two ferry terminals at 6:30 p.m. today at Maya Lin School, 825 Taylor Avenue. So far, bus and shuttle service are the two most popular options, Connolly said.

He said the new service will take some time to catch on, but he’s optimistic riders here will make use of it. The authority is investing $600,000 in the new service, he said.

“Our expectation is that it’s still going to need some time to grow,” Connolly said. “But we’re sort of bullish that Main Street and Oakland have the capacity to fill up a half-hour frequency as well.”


Submitted by marc klein (not verified) on Thu, Mar 20, 2014

We still need a 3 p.m. ferry from SF to Alameda. Right now if you miss the 2 p.m, ferry, you have to wait until 4. That's ridiculous.
As far as parking is concerned, the dog park should be moved to a new location at Alameda Point. The current dog park could be converted to a much needed parking lot adjacent to the Main Street terminal.

Submitted by Karen Bey on Thu, Mar 20, 2014

This is great news! Currently if you miss the ferry, you have to wait an hour or so for the next ferry or take Bart. It's hard to catch a Bart train after being a regular commuter on the ferry. There's no comparison - which is why the increase in ferry ridership.

I agree a 3:00 and a 4:30 ferry from SF to Alameda would be great! Right now if I have a scheduled doctor appt, I take Bart because of the lack of ferry service from SF to Alameda in the afternoon.

Also more parking is needed. If you arrive anytime after 8:10 am -- you will probably have to park on the street, and there's only so much street parking available on Main Street.

Finally, I'm not a bike rider (yet)but a bike trail from the main Island to the ferry terminal would attract more bike riders and reduce the need for parking.

But these changes are a huge improvement in service!

Submitted by Jame (not verified) on Thu, Mar 20, 2014

Yay on bus service! When I lived in Alameda car-free, I couldn't take the ferry due to the lack of bus service. There needs to be way more non-car options to get to the ferry stop on the island.

Submitted by James (not verified) on Thu, Mar 20, 2014

Great news! Much need. This will quickly become popular, I predict!

Submitted by Steve Gerstle on Thu, Mar 20, 2014

In recent years, bus service to Alameda Point and the ferry terminal has gotten worse, not better. Alameda Point cannot develop without well established public transit. The lack of a bus connection to the ferry terminal that also serves all of Alameda Point is long overdue. We need to be serving not only Alameda residents, but visitors from San Francisco and the East Bay. Our public agencies must make this a priority.

Submitted by Heather little (not verified) on Fri, Mar 21, 2014

Excellent news that the services are expanding, but I disagree with the comment that there is ample parking at main street. Currently there is a shabby dog park located in an area where parking should be. The dog park could be moved down, as it is just a fenced in area anyway. If they are going to make room for more riders, they should make more easily accessible parking. There should also be a discounted bus option to get people out there.

Submitted by JC (not verified) on Sun, Mar 23, 2014

fantastic! Way of the future...