The San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) Board of Directors yesterday authorized the agency to award La Conner, Wash., shipbuilder Mavrik Marine Inc. a $30 million contract to build two new high-speed passenger ferries to serve Bay Area commuters.
The new ferries will carry 320 passengers each and operate at a speed of 36 knots (approximately 41 miles per hour), becoming the fastest vessels in the San Francisco Bay Ferry fleet. The new vessels will make WETA’s fleet more efficient and keep the agency ready to perform its emergency response mission when called upon.
Mavrik Marine is also currently building two 320-passenger ferries for WETA set to be delivered over the next year. The first, MV Dorado, is expected to arrive in the Bay Area in January 2021 and will enter service shortly thereafter. The second, MV Delphinus, is expected later in 2021.
Both those vessels are high speed catamarans built to a design by Australia’s One2three Naval Architects. The two new ferries will be upgraded versions, with the main difference being higher installed horsepower with a quad engine rather than dual engine installation.
The contract with Mavrik Marine includes an optional third vessel of the same model that may be exercised in the future should WETA identify the need and funding for this additional vessel.
The new vessels will replace MV Solano and MV Bay Breeze in WETA’s San Francisco Bay Ferry fleet. MV Solano was taken out of service at the end of 2019 and MV Bay Breeze is on track to be retired in 2021.
WETA’s long-range strategic plan calls for expanding the fleet to 44 vessels by 2035, pending available funding. WETA has added seven new ferries into service since 2017, dramatically reshaping and modernizing the Bay’s fleet. WETA currently owns 16 vessels and has two more under construction. Once these replacement vessels are completed, WETA will have a fleet of 18 ferries with a combined 6,085 seats.
The contract with Mavrik Marine includes an optional third vessel of the same model that may be exercised by the Board of Directors in the future should WETA identify the need and funding for this additional vessel.The two ferries just authorized will be funded largely through Federal Transit Administration (FTA) grants with additional capital contributions from regional bridge tolls, state cap-and-trade funds, Alameda transportation sales tax proceeds and state transit assistance funds.