Pamela Cruz. Peninsula 360 Press [P360P].
The Redwood City Port Commission accepted the initial financial feasibility study last Wednesday, with the goal of considering the next steps to establish a public ferry station, which will connect to the ports of San Francisco and Oakland.
According to the study, completed by engineering and construction firm CDM Smith, it found that, adding the station through the Emergency Water Transportation Authority, operating on other ferries in the Bay, would be feasible after considering alternative transportation routes and maintenance costs.
According to The Daily Journal, consultants were asked to evaluate the project against five criteria: whether the proposal was consistent with Redwood City and WETA's plans, whether demand could be accommodated, and whether it was a practically built facility.
It also considered whether farebox revenues would be sufficient, as well as other available funds, and whether the user benefits would outweigh public investment and costs. CDM Smith's consultants endorsed all five points and concluded that ridership would increase over time.
Under the plan, two routes would be added to the existing WETA system that connects the Port of Redwood City with San Francisco and Oakland. The terminal could be located along Westpoint Slough in the north, where two ships could dock at the same time, or on the west side, which would cost less to develop.
The new San Francisco route would have a total of eight daily trips and the Oakland route would have six, requiring the acquisition of at least two 320-passenger vessels for approximately $16 million each.
Annual operating expenses are expected to be almost US$13 million in the first years and more than US$17 million after 10 years of service. Similarly, the service's initial annual revenues are expected to be $7.7 million, growing in 10 years to $13 million.
With projected revenues below expenditures, $4 million to $5 million in subsidies would be required to operate the service, and funding for capital-related costs could come from various tax streams and a voter-supported bridge toll increase in 2018 through WETA.
During public comment, concerns were expressed about the potential environmental impact of the station, including possible sediment erosion, disturbance of endangered habitats, and landfill deposition near Cargill's salt ponds.
Finally, the City Council will consider accepting the findings of the study at its December 21 meeting, while a business plan and environmental review will be completed in the next few years with a projected launch in 2024.
If the project proceeds as planned, the Port of Redwood City would host the first stop south of the City of South San Francisco, which will be incorporated into the WETA ferry system.