GOLDEN GATE FERRY TO PURCHASE THIRD HIGH-SPEED VESSEL

 

On June 23, 2006, the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District (District) Board of Directors (Board) authorized staff to initiate the purchase a new high-speed ferry vesselThe District’s current capital plan calls for the replacement of one of the three 30-year old, original 715-passenger Spaulding Golden Gate Ferry vessels. To finance the $12 million new vessel purchase, 80% will come from federal grant funding and District funds will cover the remaining 20%.  Purchasing a new high-speed vessel has two primary advantages:

 

1) A new high-speed vessel, with a passenger capacity of 499, would increase capacity on the Larkspur/San Francisco route.  In July 2004, when the average weekday ridership was 4,100, a two high-speed ferry vessel operation was introduced to improve cost efficiency using the 450-passenger M.V. Mendocino and the 390-passenger M.V. Del Norte. As of April 2006, weekday ridership grew to 4,600, a 12% increase over two years.  Since January 2006, three of the five weekday morning Larkspur departures (7:10 am, 7:50 am, and 8:20 am) regularly experience nearly full passenger loads with all three operating at near-capacity levels about 65% of the time.   On some occasions, customers are left behind to wait for the next departure. 

2) A new high-speed/high-capacity vessel will provide the District with a “back-up” high-speed vessel during times of service disruptions as such as annual mandatory U.S. Coast Guard dry-docking and unforeseen maintenance requirements.  Currently, during these times, the weekday high-speed trips are replaced with a slower Spaudling vessel which adds 15 minutes to the crossing.  A “backup” high-speed vessel will allow for continuous high-speed service and assist in maintaining the existing strong customer satisfaction.

Additional Background

Golden Gate Larkspur Ferry service began in 1976.  Currently, there are 41 crossing each weekday and 9 on Saturdays and Sundays.  The fleet currently includes three Spaulding vessels: M.V. Marin with a 715-passenger capacity, 45 minute crossing time and placed in service December 11, 1976; M.V. Sonoma with a 715-passenger capacity, 45 minute crossing time and placed in service March 7, 1997; and M.V. San Francisco with a 715-passenger capacity, 45 minute crossing time and placed in service September 12, 1997. The fleet also has two high-speed catamarans: M.V.  Del Norte with a 390-passenger capacity, 30 minute crossing time, placed in service September 1998 and built by Dakota Creek, in Washington; MV Mendocino with a 450- passenger capacity, 30 minute crossing time, placed in service September 2001, and built by Nichols Brothers in Washington.

Ridership

Ferry ridership responds to a number of factors that include economic factors and weather.


Average Weekday Larkspur Ferry Ridership

FY 2006, ending June 30, 2006

Jul 2005
5,043
Aug 2005
5,088
Sep 2005
4,609
Oct 2005
4,465
Nov 2005
4,448
Dec 2005
4,557
Jan 2006
4,511
Feb 2006
4,374
Mar 2006
4,209
Apr 2006
4,672
May 2006
4,732

 

Golden Gate Ferry Ridership by Fiscal Year (ending June 30)
FY 2005
FY 2004
FY 2003
FY 2002
FY 2001
FY 2000
Annual Larkspur & Sausalito
1,749,608
1,660,771
1,596,121
1,652,420
1,885,618
1,857,355
Annual Larkspur
1,334,644
1,276,373
1,269,643
1,311,782
1,451,237
1,408,340
Annual Sausalito
414,964
384,398
326,478
340,638
434,381
453,811

Since January 2004, Golden Gate Ferry has been experiencing a slow and steady increase in ridership due to the signs of economic recovery, after having lost ridership with the economic downturn from FY 2001 through FY 2003. Ridership for FY 2005 ending June 30, 2005 was up +6.1% over the prior fiscal year.