Long-awaited ferry service between the East Bay and South San Francisco debuts Monday, and passengers will receive free travel for the first week to celebrate the opening and attract customers.
“The first week is a preview service,” said Ernest Sanchez, manager of transportation services for the Water Emergency Transportation Authority, the state body in charge of the ferry. “The idea is for people to come on down, try us out and then tell their friends about it. Also, it will give us an opportunity to gather feedback and see if we need to change anything.”
Plenty of luminaries will be on hand for the 10 a.m. celebration — Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, WETA Executive Director Nina Rannells and South City Mayor Richard Garbarino, among others.
Running from ports in Oakland and Alameda to a new ferry terminal at Oyster Point on the Peninsula, the ferry service will take about 40 to 50 minutes and cost $7.
Clipper cards can be used to pay fares, and passengers can enjoy free Wi-Fi and a full-beverage bar. Each vessel is capable of carrying up to 149 people, and there are 34 spaces available for bikes.
Sanchez said he did not know how many people would use the service during the opening week. WETA has projected about 425 daily riders during the first year of operation.
For now, the service will operate seven times a day, with four trips coming from the East Bay to South City and three trips heading in the opposite direction. There will be five morning trips and two evening trips.
The new ferry has been geared toward serving the large biotech companies situated on each side of the Bay, particularly in South San Francisco, where Genentech is headquartered.
Genentech spokeswoman Nadine Pinell said the company is pleased that the new service will provide another commuting option for its workers.
Along with the South City service, WETA also has taken over two existing ferry routes that run from Oakland and Harbor Bay to San Francisco. The agency will add a fourth run, Vallejo to San Francisco, on July 1. Collectively, the routes will be billed as San Francisco Bay Ferry.