Connectivity and economic development for Richmond and beyond
It makes good economic and environmental sense to acknowledge the regional trends that have brought us to this current moment in Bay Area transportation history, with the expansion of ferry service in Richmond and beyond.
This movement aligns with goals and strategies identified at the state, regional, and local level to connect people to the places they need to go while getting them out of their cars. And the demand for service clearly exists.
In Richmond in particular, expanded service aligns with city plans and policies that identify ways in which expanded ferry service can increase connectivity for residents to the greater Bay Area. The Richmond Bay specific plan, for instance, notes in its discussion of connectivity and transportation that the new WETA ferry terminal within the plan area will provide a seamless connection to San Francisco, and indicates the arrival of passenger ferry service to the city as the most significant planned enhancement to public transportation service in the area.
The new ferry terminal will also support regional connectivity for residents populating burgeoning development along Richmond’s shoreline and throughout the city as a whole.
As described in a recent San Francisco Business Times feature, developers are flocking to Richmond’s shoreline area, building homes that offer stellar views of the bay and easy access to the ferry—thus speeding up San Francisco and North Bay commutes. The expansion of ferry service to Richmond is also expected to draw business to existing food and entertainment venues along the city’s waterfront.
Providing benefits to Richmond’s residents and visitors alike, the establishment of the new ferry service, along with completion of proposed new developments along the city’s waterfront, is a key piece of the region’s vision for promoting environmental quality and economic opportunity. Local policymakers are laser-focused on through the expansion of transit-oriented development and improvement of transportation options to achieve these goals.
The Richmond ferry will take an expected 500 to 1000 daily riders off Bay Area Rapid Transit and regional roadways while providing increased access to jobs and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The terminal also has the potential to help revitalize the community by resurrecting its history as a regional transportation hub, promising economic development and increased tourism in the years to come.
For WETA, this vision for Richmond is just the tip of the iceberg.
According to the agency’s 2016 strategic plan, its 20-year expansion and enhancement strategy would increase ferry service by more than 80 percent, providing residents with less-congested commute options. At full buildout, the system would bring ferry service south to the peninsula and north to the Carquinez Straight, reducing roadway traffic and offering additional capacity and redundancy to serve the Bay Area after a natural disaster.
While each city and region has its own set of parameters for a successful transportation network, WETA’s vision and execution for expanded ferry system highlight the opportunities that come with increased investment in ferries.