If the East Bay moves forward with hovercraft plans, instead of ferries, Griffon Hoverworks -- a leading manufacturer -- could be involved.
Admit it, seeing "hovercraft" in a headline is, at the very least, intriguing. The Contra Costa Times reports that three East Bay cities have been looking for ferry service to San Francisco, but may consider a different mode of commuting.
Hercules, Martinez and Antioch are looking into hovercrafts, long popular in Europe but not catchy in the United States. The article points out that technical upgrades make the ride safer and more comfortable, but that there are still political -- and physical -- challenges ahead.
One challenge? Even a hovercraft consulatant thinks that, often, it's better to use a boat.
"As a general rule, if you can make all the connections you need using a (conventional) boat, without going around extended areas of shallow water -- use a boat," said Richard Box, a former hovercraft pilot and hovercraft operations consultant for Griffon Hoverwork Ltd. of Southampton, U.K.
Navigating Hercules' mud flats are an upside for hovering. Rising (just barely) above the water prevents pricey dredging in around Martinez and Antioch, as well.
Emergency capabilities of hovercrafts are also an advantage. And their green factor is high, as well, giving the now-novel mode of transport at least a chance for official review.