Redwood City ready for ferries

City officials want to add water transport to their commuter relief plans

REDWOOD CITY — While local leaders try out a potential ferry route between the city and San Francisco this weekend, some officials are pushing to establish ferry service sooner than the proposed launch in 2011.

Redwood City is one of two Peninsula port cities, along with South San Francisco, expected to get ferry service to San Francisco, the East Bay or both. Ferry service from South San Francisco is scheduled to begin in 2008, according to Water Transit Authority spokeswoman Shirley Douglas, and Redwood City Port Director Michael Giari would like to get a terminal established at his port by then as well.

“Funding under Measure A will start being available in that year,” Giari said, referring to a renewal of the countywide transportation sales tax, which includes money for ferries.

Building a terminal at the port could cost $10 to $15 million, while constructing the ferries will cost $22 million and running the service will cost roughly $5 million per year, according to Douglas. California infrastructure bonds, set for the November ballot, include some money for emergency ferry service in case of a disaster, according to Giari.

Redwood City officials are hoping that adding ferry service to their lineup of rail and bus transit will provide relief for local commuters, particularly those making the daily trek across the Dumbarton Bridge. Leaders with the authority are still weighing whether a north-south route or an east-west route would make the most sense, Douglas said.

“We know we have a lot of workers who would love to take transit instead of taking their cars,” said Redwood City Councilwoman Diane Howard. “It’s something Redwood City is positioned to go for.”

However, some in Redwood City remain skeptical, particularly about a north-south route.

“I have a hard time picturing that working — the routes are the same north-south route as the train and freeway,” said Councilmember Ian Bain. “I understand the benefits of having ferry service, especially with emergencies, but it needs to make sense economically.”

High-speed ferries are already under construction for the South San Francisco ferry service, Douglas said, although officials don’t know if the service will take go to San Francisco or the East Bay.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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