South City ferry finally sails in, will charge $7 

Ferry service between South San Francisco and the East Bay is set to begin this summer after years of delays, and passengers can get information on how much the ride will cost.

The Water Emergency Transportation Authority, which operates the ferry, has proposed one-way fares of $7. Seniors, youths and the disabled will pay $3.50 fares, and children under 5 ride free. The trip clocks in at 35 minutes.

Nina Rannells, executive director of the water authority, said the fare proposal was reached after receiving feedback from more than 200 potential riders. She also said it was comparable to other Bay-crossing transit systems — the fare for a similar trip via BART, including a shuttle and parking fees, can cost up to $6.40, and ferry service from Oakland to San Francisco is $6.25.

Today, the authority’s board of directors will vote on the proposal. If approved, the fare system will be in place for the scheduled opening of service June 4.

Rannells said the authority projects anywhere from 200 to 300 daily passengers in the first year, although she conceded those estimates could vary. The number of passengers could be important in how future fares are determined.

Under guidelines from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the authority must achieve a 40 percent farebox recovery rate — a mark that measures how much of operational costs are covered by fares. If more people ride the system, it will be easier to achieve that 40 percent mark.

Rannells said she is hoping the $7 fare will allow the authority to meet the MTC’s goals, but if not, the cost of the trip could be re-evaluated.

Originally projected to open in 2005, the ferry service has been consistently beset by funding problems.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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