Alameda has outline of ferry transfer deal
City staffers have outlined an agreement with the Water Emergency Transportation Authority to transfer Alameda’s ferry service to the state-created agency. If approved by the City Council, the hand-off could take place in early 2011, a year later than originally planned.
The proposed deal outline calls on WETA to maintain 2010-2011 service levels, requiring them to first consider finding additional funding, raising fares or cutting operating expenses in the event of a budget shortfall. The agency would have the right to modify fares at its sole discretion, and if it seeks to eliminate one or both of Alameda’s two ferry services, the agency would have to offer the city the opportunity to take it over.
WETA would also be required to work with the city and whoever’s developing Alameda Point to develop a ferry terminal and funding plan for service there. And the city’s existing ferry services manager, Ernest Sanchez, would remain in his job.
The agency would take over the four ferry boats owned by the city, as well as its existing contracts with the Blue & Gold Fleet and Harbor Bay Maritime to operate service at Main Street and Harbor Bay. Those contracts were renewed for a year by the City Council on June 15.
WETA would take possession of existing waterside facilities like passenger ramps, gangways and piles, and the city would retain landside facilities, which include parking lots and restrooms. WETA would reimburse the city for the cost of maintaining those facilities.
The city would need to contribute $500,000 a year in state transportation improvement funds and $78,200 in local landscape and lighting assessment district money to help operate the ferry system. WETA would be responsible for assembling the rest of the budget.
The council is expected to consider the deal this coming fall. So far, WETA has purchased four ferry boats and begun construction on a new terminal in South San Francisco. The agency has not yet enacted a planned takeover of existing service in Alameda or Vallejo.