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Ferries: Get on Board

Jerri Holan
Friday March 29, 2002

For the environment, recreation and the future of inter-Bay transportationZ 



Your 3/27 FORUM article regarding the future Berkeley/Albany ferry service at Gilman Street was very informative — pointing out the benefits of ferry service for local residents.  

For many reasons, the proposed ferry terminal at Gilman Street is a top priority site for new service in the Bay Area. Residents here have ranked traffic congestion as the number one problem facing the region.  

At the 3/18 Albany Council meeting, the Water Transit Authority (WTA) discussed how ferries are a very environmentally friendly form of transit and how state-of-the-art vessels and fuel studies will work for the Bay Area.  

In fact, they are studying the first-ever “no-emissions” (fuel cell) ferry, they know that biodiesel works well in ferries, and that ferries are more economical than many other forms of public transportation.  

Their final report and Draft EIR, to be completed late this Summer, will outline these issues.  

Another critical aspect of ferry service is how important they become during disasters. We saw evidence of how essential ferries were after the Loma Prieta Earthquake -- without ferry service, the East Bay would have been isolated for months from San Francisco while the Bay Bridge was being repaired.  

New Yorkers also rediscovered the value of their ferry service after the World Trade Center disaster -- ferries were [and are] the only viable transportation system still functioning after their downtown area was devastated by terrorists.  

Perhaps one of the most important aspects of Albany/Berkeley ferry service is land use. Because the state is currently planning the Eastshore State Park, this is a golden opportunity to coordinate the Bay Trail. With a new 

ferry terminal located at Gilman Street, the public will gain access to a waterfront that has been privately governed since 1941 when the racetrack was built. This means that unless a person is a racetrack patron, this large shoreline area (most of Albany's and a large part of Berkeley's) is off-limits to the public.  

Ferry service would do much to change this draconian state of affairs.  

The WTA has discussed ways a bayside alignment of the Bay Trail from Buchanan Street to Gilman Street as part of the Gilman ferry could be developed. Bicycle riders, pedestrians, and Eastshore State Park users would then gain easy access to all parts of the Park as well as to other recreational areas in the Bay such as Golden Gate Recreation Areas, Angel Island, PacBel Park and downtown San Francisco to name just a few destinations.  

Because the WTA is on an aggressive timeline to complete their studies and make recommendations to the state legislature, we urge everyone to let their decision-making bodies in Albany & Berkeley know how much we need ferry service here.  

By this summer, we ought to be on board!  


Jerri Holan