SF Gate reports drop in ridership on new Oyster Point Ferry

I support connecting Caltrain and SamTrans to the new ferry service in South San Francisco. The public subsidy is currently estimated at $266 for every round trip and ridership is dropping. 

Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross . October 7, 2012

After three months, ridership on the highly subsidized ferry service between South San Francisco and the East Bay is drawing only about a third of the weekday passengers predicted.

What's more, ridership on the new service appears to be dropping, falling by almost 500 trips last month.

The line's 140-seat ferry boats are averaging about 20 passengers a trip - about one-seventh of their capacity.

The Water Emergency Transportation Authority, which oversees the service, had estimated 100,000 annual riders - which works out to a public subsidy of $47 per ride, or $94 for every round trip.

Instead, the agency reported 2,960 one-way trips in July, 3,181 in August and 2,690 in September - which, unless things improve, puts it on a pace for an annual total of 35,324 rides. At that rate, the public subsidy would total $133 per trip, or $266 for every round trip.

"We don't think it's useful to talk about (ridership) targets," says Ernest Sanchez, who manages the service for the Water Emergency Transportation Authority. "It's going to take a couple of years, and we are doing things to build service."