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Submitted by on 1, April 13, 2009 – 6:50 amNo Comment

The state has put together its plan to take over and expand local ferry services (including Alameda’s) into a regional network, and they’re seeking public input with a series of hearings, including one at Alameda City Hall on Thursday.

The plan is for a state agency called the Water Emergency Transportation Authority to take over Vallejo’s ferry service and our two services, the Alameda/Oakland Ferry Service (at Main Street) and Alameda Harbor Bay Ferry, on January 1, 2010. They’ve got until July 1 to get everything in place.

Details to be worked out in the transition will include who will pay the costs of local ferry service (currently under negotiation) and how much the state will pay for our boats (the city owns them) and spare parts. They’ll also have to lease back docking areas. But the service levels here in Alameda are anticipated to stay the same.

They’re also planning $218 million in upgrades and expansion to include service from Berkeley, Treasure Island and South San Francisco to Oakland. Over five years, operating costs are expected to grow to $36 million a year.

The agency will pick up existing service contracts for a year and then work to secure a single contract for region-wide service starting in 2011.

Thursday’s meeting starts at 7:30 p.m.

The Alameda/Oakland service was started after the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989, and Harbor Bay’s service was started in 1992 by Harbor Bay Isle Associates. Both services are managed by the city and operated by separate private contractors.

The Alameda/Oakland service sees nearly half a million passengers a year and has a budget of $4.17 million; Harbor Bay sees about 150,000 passengers and has a budget of $1.68 million. About three-quarters of the funding for each service comes from fares and local sources (those being a few hundred thousand dollars in special assessments), with the rest from regional toll subsidies.

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