Mission Bay Moves Ahead

It's a self-described "imperfect solution," but ferry operators and the Port of San Francisco have taken steps to ensure there will be ferry service when the new Chase Center Arena opens in Mission Bay this fall.


Published: July, 2019


It’s a self-described “imperfect solution,” but ferry operators and the Port of San Francisco have taken steps to ensure there will be ferry service when the new Chase Center Arena opens in Mission Bay this fall.


By unanimous vote at their June board meeting, Water Emergency Transit Authority (WETA) directors approved plans to move ahead with a temporary dock at Pier 48½. The dock will provide landing space for WETA and Golden Gate ferries to service events at the Chase Center.


The arena is scheduled to open September 6 with a concert by Metallica and the San Francisco Symphony. Along with many concerts, the center will host the Golden State Warriors, whose first event is a preseason game against the Los Angeles Lakers on October 5.


Plans for the temporary landing facility, located four-tenths of a mile north of the center, call for WETA to relocate a spare floating dock from Mare Island to the pier. The relocation and installation are to be financed by the Port of San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge District and an unnamed third party (reliably believed to be the University of California).


The temporary pier was necessitated after a freeze on funding delayed construction of a permanent ferry terminal at the foot of 16th Street, just southeast of the Chase Center. That terminal, which would service both special-event and regular commuter service, is expected to cost nearly $50 million, with $25 million of that money to come from a toll increase enacted under Regional Measure 3. But opponents of RM3 have filed lawsuits against the measure. Pending the outcome of that litigation, the additional toll monies are being placed in an escrow account. Provided the litigation is resolved in RM3’s favor this year, construction of the permanent terminal would begin in early 2020, with completion scheduled for late 2021.


Meanwhile, the temporary dock will require a delicate balancing act. A portion of Pier 48½ has been red-tagged, which will limit the floating dock to a single side—unlike the permanent dock, which will have two sides. As a result, WETA and Golden Gate boats will have to stagger their arrivals. Further complicating matters, Pier 45½ is shared by Westar Marine, a very active tugboat and barge company with 65 employees.


“It’s a tight fit,” said Kevin Connolly, WETA planning and development manager. “The (ferry) service may not be fantastic, but it’s getting things up and running.”


Ridership levels to Mission Bay are difficult to predict, according to Connolly. “It’s a new season with a new ticket base, (so) it’s a bit of a mystery,” he said. In addition, the demographics of Warriors attendees may not resemble those of concertgoers. For example, the largest block of tickets for a September 11 Eric Clapton concert has been bought from Los Angeles.


For now, an analysis of Warriors ticket holders shows a heavy concen-tration in the East Bay, so WETA will service people going to the games from Oakland/Alameda, while Golden Gate’s ferry will run from Larkspur. For concerts, ferries will run on a select basis, depending on demand and the availability of vessels.


WETA fares for the run to Mission Bay are expected to start at $9.60 for adults and $7.20 for youth, senior and disabled fares—the same as is currently charged for ferry service to Giants games. Golden Gate spokesperson Priya Clemens said that service also expects to match its Giants fare at Mission Bay—$14 for full fare.