Berkeley parks

The final workshop on the proposed Berkeley ferry service will take place on Wednesday


The closed Berkeley Pier viewed through a chain link fence in mid-October 2021. Credit: Kelly Sullivan

Should the city replace the municipal pier at Berkeley Marina – closed since 2015 – with a multi-purpose structure for regular commuter ferry service to San Francisco?

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part of a series of Berkeley Marina Stories written by UC Berkeley graduate journalism students in partnership with Berkeleyside.

On Wednesday evening, this proposal will be the subject of Berkeley’s final community workshop on the feasibility of a multi-use jetty, which would be built with assistance from the state’s Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA). Through Regional Measure 3, WETA has partnered with the city to design a study to determine whether ferry service is a viable option.

Regional Measure 3, approved by 55% of Bay Area voters in 2018, provides a way to pay for improved transportation in the region, primarily using $ 4.45 billion in toll revenue. This could mean $ 300 million for upgrading existing ferries and $ 35 million per year for expanding ferry services, including improving services and terminals at nine Bay Area locations, from North Bay to Redwood City. Of these sites, only one is considering a brand new terminal: Berkeley.


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Expanded and new ferry operations are being considered throughout the region. Credit: Metropolitan Transport Commission

The City of Berkeley has held Zoom workshops throughout the year to gauge community sentiment regarding a possible new ferry terminal at the marina.

The city and WETA will be hosting the final community workshop of the year for the ferry dock project from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, October 27 on Zoom.

In addition to community meetings, focus groups – led by Ali Endress, the city’s waterfront manager, and comprised of marina users who ranged from porters to bird watchers – were consulted on designs and possibilities of a multipurpose jetty that can accommodate a ferry terminal. .

“Our real, real goal here is to get your feedback on the waterfront concepts presented and the landscape concepts presented,” Endress told workshop participants in August.

During this session, concerns ranging from parking to energy efficiency and issues related to recreational compatibility with commuter use were all raised.

While one participant expressed support for a circular jetty design, he also said he was not convinced that a ferry would generate income. “What’s the concept here for this thing to make money?” ” He asked. “Especially now with COVID and more people working from home, who is going to pay for all of this? ”

Another workshop participant said she feared the ferry was a “serious misuse of public funds”.

“This money (from regional measure 3) should be spent on electric buses and shuttles and we should do everything to get everyone out of their car,” she said.

Signs were installed on the fenced entrance to Berkeley Pier in mid-October 2021. Credit: Kelly Sullivan
Signs were installed on the fenced entrance to Berkeley Pier in mid-October 2021. Credit: Kelly Sullivan

Participants also asked how the jetty would be shared between recreational users – such as fishermen, a main activity before the jetty closed – and ferry passengers.

Another participant asked how the traffic might affect the peaceful space at the water’s edge.

“I am concerned that this proposed ferry, whatever its design, will have a negative impact on the overall nature of the marina,” he said.

While city officials have expressed support for the prospect of a ferry to Berkeley, it remains an open discussion with many decisions yet to be made.

Roger Miller, executive analyst with the city’s Parks, Recreation and Waterfront Department, said any ferry service to the marina will need to be approved by the Berkeley City Council and the WETA Board of Directors. and also take into account the comments of the community.

Staff plan to take the ferry to city council for a vote in December.


Bria manning is a student at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism who covers economic development.


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