WETA Approves Initiatives to Expand Ferry Service
The San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) Board of Directors recently approved several initiatives that will expand ferry service in the San Francisco Bay Area, increase capacity in the near-term, and improve the passenger experience.
At last Thursday’s meeting, the WETA Board of Directors adopted the 2016 Strategic Plan, which outlines a vision for ferry service for the next 20 years. The Strategic Plan envisions a system that seamlessly connects cities in the greater Bay Area with San Francisco, using fast, environmentally responsible vessels, with wait times of 15 minutes or less during peak commute hours. The Plan is organized by seven focus areas: expanded service, funding, quality, partnerships, environmental stewardship, emergency response, and organizational capacity and leadership. It includes an overview of WETA’s present activities, such as the San Francisco Ferry Terminal Expansion Project and new maintenance facilities, and plans to expand service and infrastructure over the next 20 years.
To address current capacity issues, and prepare for future growth, the WETA Board of Directors also approved a contract award of $33.4 million to Vigor Kvichak (Vigor) LLC for the construction of two 400-passenger vessels, and Aurora Marine Design (AMD) for vessel construction management services. The two new boats will be added to an existing boat-build contract with Vigor through a non-competitive negotiated contract award for vessel construction.
In December 2013, the WETA Board of Directors approved a contract award to Vigor for construction of two 400-passenger vessels; vessel production is currently underway, with the first vessel coming on-line in January 2017, and the second vessel arriving in May 2017. The two new vessels that will be added to the current build cycle will be delivered 16 and 24 months from the contract award, which is a full year before new vessels could arrive if WETA were to use a traditional Request for Proposal process.
“The procurement of two additional vessels from Vigor represents a low-risk, low-cost, proven solution which capitalizes on the research, design, engineering, testing, regulatory approvals and planning developed for the two vessels currently in production,” said Nina Rannells, WETA executive director. “The addition of four new boats to our fleet will support our ability to deliver consistent, quality service to our passengers.”
The third significant outcome of last week’s board meeting was the WETA Board of Directors’ approval of a contract award to Marine Group Boat Works for the MV Pisces quarter-life refurbishment project in the amount of $3.68 million. The MV Pisces has more than 10,000 operating hours and is ready for a minor refit project to improve vessel reliability and passenger amenities, while ensuring operational safety and reliability. In addition to standard quarter-life refurbishment, the project includes work to increase the passenger capacity of MV Pisces by 51 percent.
“Ferries are a critical component of the Bay Area’s economic engine,” Rannells said. “As our bridges and roadways become more and more congested, ferries are part of the long-term solution to meet the public’s transportation and commuting needs. The WETA Board of Directors, staff and planners are working diligently to address capacity issues today, while planning for the service of tomorrow.”