New direct service from Oakland to San Francisco makes the trip in just 25 minutes. Credit: WETA

Following the COVID-19 shutdown, San Francisco Bay Ferry is back, and service is better than ever. With lower fares, more weekday departures, plenty of weekend service, new non-stop service between Oakland and downtown San Francisco, and the same amazing comfort and views that passengers love, San Francisco Bay Ferry is the best way to cross the bay.

WETA, the agency that provides San Francisco Bay Ferry service, has invested heavily in adding ferry capacity in Oakland and Alameda. The revamped Oakland & Alameda ferry route connects Jack London Square in Oakland, Main Street Alameda and downtown San Francisco (at the Ferry Building) seven days a week. 

Direct-to-SF rides

What’s new is that during the weekday peak commute period, Oakland riders now have a 25-minute direct trip into downtown San Francisco. Before the pandemic, this route stopped in Alameda before heading to the city. Now, it goes straight across the bay, saving riders 15 minutes. This is a huge improvement for Oakland commuters and provides another great transportation option that isn’t sitting in traffic on the bridge.

Alameda commuters benefit, too, thanks to the new Alameda Seaplane ferry route connecting the west end of Alameda to downtown San Francisco on weekdays. This route offers 20-minute direct service between the two terminals and has more space for riders since it has been decoupled from Oakland service. The Alameda Seaplane terminal has wonderful bike, pedestrian and AC Transit (Line 78) connections. It’s never been easier to get from the island to San Francisco without a car.

New and returning routes

The ferry also offers a new transit option between Alameda and Oakland, which otherwise involves going through a tube or over a bridge. For just $1, passengers can take the weekday Alameda Short Hop, a 10-minute ride on the ferry between Main Street Alameda and Oakland. It’s a perfect solution for Alamedans working in Oakland, especially those who ride a bike for the last stretch of their trips.

The Harbor Bay ferry route serving Bay Farm Island (Alameda’s other island) is back with new midday departures added by popular demand, and the South San Francisco ferry route connecting East Bay residents to the Oyster Point Business Park recently relaunched.

San Francisco Bay Ferry is also the easy way for East Bay fans to catch Warriors games. This special route from Oakland and Alameda docks at Pier 48 in San Francisco, just a 12-minute walk to Chase Center. Reservations are strongly encouraged due to the popularity of Chase Center ferry service.

The Richmond ferry terminal doubles as a work of art. Credit: WETA

San Francisco Bay Ferry has also made its Vallejo ferry schedule more flexible for passengers facing new and changing travel needs, while adding more departures to the Richmond ferry route

Lower fares, safer rides

Along with these new and restored routes and expanded schedules, fares throughout the system have been reduced by up to 30% through June 2022, making the ferry a more affordable transit option for commuters, as well as for families looking to get out and about. 

San Francisco Bay Ferry is the only open-air public transit option and continues to employ rigorous safety protocols. Observing social distancing and face covering requirements ensures a safer trip for all on board. Crew members’ health is monitored every day, and all surfaces are cleaned between each trip. (Be sure to carry proof of vaccination if you want to buy snacks or a drink at the bar.)

All these service upgrades come at a time when Bay Area freeways and bridges are experiencing a resurgence in traffic congestion to pre-pandemic levels, with all the environmental problems that creates. 

More and more people are discovering that San Francisco Bay Ferry really is “the Best Way to Cross the Bay,” whether for everyday commuting or weekend outings. And after the experience of the last two years, it’s also “The Best Way Back” to the things that make the Bay Area special.

The ferry passes downtown Vallejo on its way to the Vallejo ferry terminal. Credit: WETA