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Giants’ losses mean drop in Golden Gate ferry ridership

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Ferry service to AT&T Park sees its fortunes rise and fall with the stature of the Giants. (Yesica Prado/Special to S.F. Examiner)

When the San Francisco Giants lose game after game, the Golden Gate Transit ferry service to the ballpark loses passenger after passenger.

Just one ferry route took a service hit — one directly serving AT&T Park — which sees its fortunes rise and fall with the stature of the Giants.

“If they win, people fall out of the [ferry] windows,” said Ron Downing, director of planning at the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District.

Downing presented the ferry ridership loss as part of a presentation on bus and ferry ridership to the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District Board of Directors on Thursday. The Golden Gate Ferry routes travel from Sausalito, Larkspur and Tiburon to San Francisco, with occasional “special” Giants ferry service from the North Bay for games.

Though Downing did not present specific numbers, he said the special ferry service to AT&T Park had fallen “generally flat,” while in past years the ferry would “sell out.” The San Francisco Examiner requested recent data for that route, which the district was unable to provide before press time.

Generally, however, annual ridership swelled around Giants championship years, at 79,307 riders in 2014, 92,299 annual riders in 2012, and 87,456 annual riders in 2010.

By 2016, that ridership declined to about 77,683 annual riders.

As of Wednesday afternoon, this season the Giants have lost 47 games and won 27. The financial loss from lower ferry ticket sales was not substantial to the Golden Gate District budget, Downing said.

Denis J. Mulligan, general manager at the agency, told the Examiner he hopes the Giants see their season improve — and not just for ferry ridership.

“For a variety of reasons,” he said, “we hope their second half of the season is better than their first half.”

Meanwhile, the board also discussed a drop in Golden Gate Transit ridership from the North Bay to San Francisco, though some of that loss came from planned service cuts.

The Golden Gate Transit system experienced more than a 10-percent ridership decline this year. In the district’s financial year 2015, it served 8,172 average weekday riders across the Golden Gate Bridge, and 7,893 riders in 2016.

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