Rachel Rodriguez

Growing up in Vallejo, Rachel Rodriguez loved taking the ferry, mostly just for excursions.

As ferry operations administrator for San Francisco Bay Ferry’s North Bay Ferry division, Rachel Rodriguez is happy to be based on Mare Island. She has deep family ties there, as several relatives worked on Mare Island when it was an active naval shipyard.


Published: December, 2018


Growing up in Vallejo, Rachel Rodriguez loved taking the ferry, mostly just for excursions. One day she came across an opportunity to work with Blue & Gold Fleet and jumped at the chance. With no maritime background amidst a competitive group of applicants, her expertise with heavy logistics helped land her the job. For more than four years now, Rodriguez has been the ferry operations administrator for the fleet’s North Bay Ferry division.


“I consider it a great privilege to work with a highly knowledgeable operations and engineering team in Vallejo,” she said. She specifically mentioned General Manager Marty Robbins, Port Engineer Bryan Hoffman and Operations Manager Peter Belden and said they’ve been instrumental in teaching her everything she needed to know about the maritime industry.


“It was like trying to take a sip of water out of a fire hydrant—there’s so much to absorb,” she said. But she’s been loving every minute of it, four years and counting. “It can be challenging and exciting at the same time, and it’s fulfilling because there’s always something new to learn and something new to do.”


Rodriguez helps to coordinate the whole operation, from scheduling the boats to scheduling the maintenance, managing vendor deliveries, Coast Guard visits, routine drills and cash transports. Sometimes she even acts as an event planner, project manager or liaison in the case of a National Geographic photo tour or other special visit. She stays pretty busy to say the least.


“We have a lot of things going on,” she said. “No day is ever the same and it is very exciting. If there’s anything going on behind the scenes, I help make sure that it’s totally seamless and invisible to the passengers.” Rodriguez works alongside Belden as a two-person team, but they are just one part of a grand operation.


“It’s a team effort,” she explained. “It takes a lot of behind-the-scenes scheduling to make public transportation really work. We try really hard to monitor passenger habits, tailoring our boat lineup to capture as many riders, and leave as few behind, as possible; that’s how we base our operating hours.”


Working on Mare Island in Vallejo feels like home for Rodriguez, as she has a long family history of relatives who have done the same. “My dad worked as a plumber and pipe fitter here at shop 56 when it was an operating naval shipyard,” she said. “Then my grandfather was an electrician before him, and my grandfather on my mom’s side would do machining for some of the ships here.”


Aside from working for the ferry, Rodriguez spends time volunteering for Awana, a faith-based nonprofit organization for kids. “I think community is important, and helping with the next generation is a real fulfilling way to give back,” she said. Now living in the Suisun Valley area, she enjoys running and swimming, cooking and baking, in addition to her time with the kids. She highly recommends checking out Rockville Hills Regional Park if you’re looking for a decent hike in Solano County. It’s all about good vibes, which is especially why she still loves the ferry, now more than ever.


“There something about the ferry,” she said. “Being carried along the water, seeing different wildlife and different scenery—the waves and the field air. It’s an experience that’s kind of unexplainable; when you’re looking out the window or standing on the deck, it’s really a neat feeling.”


When it comes to transportation options in the Bay, the ferry is pretty hard to beat. Rodriguez credits the crews and the state-of-the-art vessels for contributing to that fact. “The ferry is so dependable, we have so few disruptions,” she said. “And in comparison to the stress of driving, it’s scenic, you can free up your time, it’s relaxing—the ferry is just hands down the way to go.”