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    Get Off the Highways, Get on the Waterways

    By Rebecca Kaplan, Oakland City Councilmember At-Large–

    To live in the Bay Area is to understand that getting around the bay can be a maddening experience. Cars are a frustrating and polluting experience, which can leave us idling in traffic for hours.

    As we live surrounding our bay, transit by water is another important option that can and should be expanded.

    Currently, the ferry connects Oakland with San Francisco, with ports in Oakland’s Jack London Square and Alameda. And yet many vital corridors are not yet connected.

    The ferry can be an important transit mode, which can help our community by providing a welcoming transit option, reducing vehicle traffic congestion and air pollution, and encouraging public transit, and enabling effective connections to jobs, homes, and other key destinations.

    As the San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) has been working to improve and expand ferry service, it is important that certain efforts be considered. Additional location connections for the growing community in Oakland should be included.

    Oakland has a ferry terminal in Jack London Square, which is home to a large and growing community that includes newly-built housing, office space, and other jobs, as well as recreation, entertainment, and dining destinations. It is important for community health and environmental sustainability to help ensure that a growing share of trips to and from this area will take place by public transit. The well-located ferry dock can help ensure these vital goals, with increased service, connections, and public outreach.

    As WETA considers upcoming expansion opportunities, options for it to consider include: (a) increasing frequency of ferry service on existing routes to and from Oakland’s Jack London Square; (b) adding new routes to provide connections to and from Richmond, Larkspur, (c) and other areas not currently served from Oakland; and (d) increasing connectivity and outreach by further support of the Broadway shuttle, (ensuring last mile connectivity to the ferry), way-finding and informational signage, and community information regarding the ferry.

    This can be a key opportunity to connect areas not currently served, as there is a lack of transit service connecting the East Bay with the North Bay, despite a growing number of trips along this corridor, which need better options. We are blessed to live around the bay, and public transit by ferry can help close gaps in our region and help unite our communities while reducing vehicle congestion and the harms it causes.

    Councilmember At-Large and Council President Rebecca Kaplan was elected in 2008 to serve as Oakland’s citywide Councilmember; she was re-elected in 2016 and 2020. She also serves on the Alameda County Transportation Commission (ACTC). Follow Councilmember Kaplan on Twitter @Kaplan4Oakland ( https://twitter.com/Kaplan4Oakland ) and Facebook  ( https://www.facebook.com/Kaplan4Oakland/ ).

    Published on July 29, 2021