Antioch Council receives report on latest efforts to bring ferry service to city’s waterfront

By Allen Payton

A type of ferry boat operated by WETA that could eventually stop in Antioch. Photo: WETA

During their meeting on Tuesday, April 13, 2021 the Antioch City Council received a report from a representative of the Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) on the latest information on bringing ferry service to the city’s waterfront.

Peter Engel, the Director of Programs for CCTA provided the presentation. Antioch Ferry Service presentation 041321

A financial feasibility study of Contra Costa County Ferry Service from 2015 through 2023 was completed in 2014. It sought to Create collaborative effort engaging Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA), the cities, other interested entities and CCTA. Evaluate financial feasibility of expanding WETA’s ferry services to Contra Costa County.

Near-term expansion routes identified in the WETA Implementation and Operations Plan (IOP) and Short Range Transit Plan only includes a stop in Richmond. Additional expansion routes identified in WETA’s IOP include Hercules, Martinez and Antioch. The interlined routes include Antioch to Martinez, Martinez to Hercules and Antioch to Martinez to Hercules.

Engel spoke of a pilot program for ferry service in Antioch.

However, “there’s currently not a funding source for a pilot program,” he said.

Mayor Pro Tem Monica Wilson said, “my first term on council we were talking about ferry service and ridership. Back then we were talking about the traditional ferry. Former Mayor Wright talked about the water taxi. Hopefully, we’ll get more information and more studies on that. I like how the routes you discussed from Antioch to Martinez, Hercules and Richmond.”

“I know this was an issue with the WETA Board…if there is a Contra Costa representative on the WETA Board, it would be good to have at least a Contra Costa, hopefully an Antioch representative on that board,” she continued. “I just wanted to know if that’s changed since then.”

“The structure on the board hasn’t changed. Sacramento basically selects the members,” Engle responded. “Three by the governor, one by the Assembly Speaker and one by the Senate Rules Committee. The only one who represents Contra Costa who is Jim Wunderman, the CEO of the Bay Area Council and a resident of Contra Costa. That would be something that would have to be taken up through the legislature. It’s something that WETA staff would support.”

“If we do this very right it could be very good for us,” Wilson continued. “I know the Larkspur Ferry has been hurting.”

“Larkspur is operated by Golden Gate Ferry…strictly to the City operation. It’s been hurt by the pandemic,” Engle responded.

“I sit on the CCTA, so I’ve had conversations about this with (City Manager) Ron Bernal,” Mayor Lamar Thorpe said. “If there’s the possibility of a pilot program, we’d need to put some money behind it. Ron would need to show up to say we’re committed to doing something.”

“That’s fair enough,” Bernal responded. “Is the council still interested in moving forward and getting information on this?”

“The council is committed to moving forward. We are certainly 100% committed,” Thorpe replied.

“I’m concerned in a post-COVID world we don’t know what the commute will look like before we are committed,” District 2 Councilman Mike Barbanica said. “Where are we going to be with commuters? We don’t know.”

“That is some of the conversations that we’ve been having,” Thorpe responded. “The money tied up in the courts, right now will be coming,”

“I’ve heard of this since I first moved here, and I’ve been very excited about this,” said District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker who represents the part of Antioch where the ferry stop would be located. “I get the concerns Councilman Barbanica is lifting up, as well. But I also think as we learn to live with the virus…and go back to as normal as possible…that we have a ferry in Antioch and I’m excited about that potential.”

That was enough direction for both Bernal and Engle to move forward on bringing ferry service to Antioch.

The next steps include looking at service opportunities with routing to Pittsburg, Martinez, Hercules and Richmond; partner with other terminal cities; prepare Request for Information/Interest from private providers; and identifying funding. Potential funding could be from the Regional Measure 3 bridge toll revenue and COVID Relief funds.

 

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Antioch Ferry Service presentation 041321


Ferry photo WETA


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