SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Ferry ridership on the San Francisco Bay has surged by more than a million passengers in the last four years, as more commuters opt for boat rides to avoid traffic-jammed roads.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports the two major carriers, Golden Gate Ferry and San Francisco Bay Ferry, have seen ridership jump to more than 5 million passengers a year.
The increase has coincided with the Bay Area’s economic boom. Water Emergency Transportation Authority Executive Director Nina Rannells says traffic jams and overcrowding on BART is part of the reason more people are riding ferries. A boom in tourism has also had an impact. What’s more, the commute on the ferries is pleasant, riders say.
“The morning and evening commute is the best part of my day,” Donna Brennan, who rides the Golden Gate ferry from her home in Sausalito to her job in San Francisco, told the Chronicle.
Many of the ferries have free Wi-Fi and full bars, which allow commuters to have a glass of wine or cocktail with views of the San Francisco skyline and its iconic bridges on the ride home
The ferry business is so good that sometimes boats have to leave passengers behind. But a solution is on the horizon. The transportation authority will add seven new boats over the next four years. Each of the new boats can carry 400 passengers, cruise at 35 mph and will cost $21 million.
The busiest ferry is Golden Gate’s San Francisco-to-Larkspur run, which carries 8,200 passengers every weekday.
Aside from the commuter services, private operators run ferry services to Alcatraz, Angel Island and midday tourist runs to Sausalito and Tiburon.