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Ferry system should start small, grow slowly

Monday September 10, 2001


After a quake, ferries, bicycles and walking may be the main forms of travel. If bridges are down, an operating ferry system can rescue survivors. A long delay to bring ferries from other areas may be deadly. 

A new ferry system should avoid the mistakes made with other recent projects. Start small, with a well-planned and thought-out system. 

With BART, there first should have been an area-wide freeway bus rapid transit network. Then BART could have been built on or near the most heavily traveled bus routes. Instead, BART was built as if AC Transit did not exist, with BART stations on lightly traveled bus routes, stations with long walks for patrons and circuitous maneuvers by buses. BART’s major mistake was providing free parking for automobiles which buses do not need. 

In coordinating ferries with pre-existing transit systems, there should be easy transfers between them. The obvious places where ferries can pick up riders are at the toll plazas of the various bridges. There, passengers to and from buses, ferries, and even people movers can go straight on to reach nearby locations the best way. 

The important point is to get an integrated ferry system into operation in time to function before a devastating earthquake happens. 

Charles L. Smith