Commuters utilize ferry service during BART strike. Joe Rosato Jr. reports.
With the BART strike entering its second day regular passenger Edwin Henriquez began his second day – as a ferry rider.
“It’s nice,” said Henriquez as he prepared to board an Alameda bound ferry from San Francisco’s Ferry Building. “But I’ve never ridden it so it’s a whole new thing.”
Henriquez joined the long ranks of first-time ferry riders who were enjoying scenic bay views, clean air and a slow pace.
“I kind of do enjoy the ferry ride more than the BART ride,” said Henriquez. “BART’s a lot more convenient for sure.”
On Tuesday, hundreds of ferry riders lined-up in Oakland’s Jack London Square for the morning commute.
A spokesman for the San Francisco Bay Ferry line said its boats carried 18,000 customers on Monday, triple its normal daily load of 6,000 riders. He said the line would likely carry a similar amount on Tuesday.
“We’ve had a number of vessels on the various routes that have been at capacity,” said S.F. Bay Ferry Spokesman Ernest Sanchez.
The ferry service added three boats to its regular fleet of eight – with varying capacities of 149 to 700 passengers. He said many of the ferries were filled during both days. He said the issue was worse on Tuesday because a number of boats were delayed up to 15 minutes by commercial ship traffic in the Oakland Estuary.
With BART down, and buses stuffed to the gills, there was little for ferry passengers to do but kick up their feet and enjoy the view.
“The beautiful view, the bay, the bridge,” noted Simon Burns, a tech worker heading from Berkeley to San Francisco’s South of Market. “It was all just a serene experience in a way.”
Burns said he didn’t remember ever using such glowing terms to describe his regular commute on BART.
“It’s usually the smell, the crowdedness, and even you complain about how late it is,” Burns said.
While the view from the ferry might’ve been scenic, the pace slow – the air fresh, some said the whole journey just took too dang long.
“If you’re in a hurry, you have something to do in the city, it just takes longer to get here,” said Candace Davis.
Sanchez said ferry workers were trying to cram in regular maintenance in between runs. But without an end to the strike in sight, he said it was difficult for the ferry line to plan ahead. Although challenging, he said the ferry service was hoping to keep some of its new customers once BART resumed running.
“We do like the opportunity now, although it’s a challenge,” Sanchez said, “to get the public to see what public ferry service can be like.”