Redwood City ferry plans sail along

A planned ferry system between Redwood City and San Francisco that would reportedly shuttle 1,420 passengers between the two cities in fewer than 50 minutes has made it over its first bureaucratic hurdle.

San Mateo County currently does not have a ferry service, although a different ferry terminal project — for South San Francisco’s Oyster Point — recently received $10 million in funding.

The Redwood City plan, which port officials have publicly discussed for a decade, was granted its first approval last month by the Water Emergency Transportation Authority, or WETA, a regional group with authority over the project.

When completed, commuter ships between the Port of Redwood City and San Francisco would eventually shuttle 1,420 passengers in fewer than 50 minutes, WETA authorities promise. A potential Redwood City-East Bay route would take 45 minutes.

A 12- to 18-month planning process will start Aug. 1 to determine how it will be funded and whether the East Bay route is feasible. No timeline was available on when the project would be completed, WETA and Redwood City officials said.

The project initially was proposed to ease congestion along Peninsula and San Francisco freeways and bridges, transportation authority spokeswoman Shirley Johnson said.

“You can see with the increase in gasoline costs people are looking for alternative ways to get around,” Port Executive Director Mike Giari said.

Officials said the biggest challenge during the coming year will be securing $20 million for a planned terminal at the end of Seaport Boulevard and $22 million to purchase two 300-passenger fast vessels. Possible sources of initial funds include federal and state money, as well as revenue from Measure A, which San Mateo County voters passed in 2004.

The ferry’s fares have not yet been determined.

mrosenberg@sfexaminer.com

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