WETA takes delivery of fast new ferry

Written by Nick Blenkey
Dorado is fastest vessel in WETA fleet

M/V Dorado is the fastest vessel in WETA’s fleet with a service speed of 36 knots.

The San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA), which operates the San Francisco Bay Ferry fleet, has taken delivery of M/V Dorado. It is the fastest vessel in WETA’s fleet with a service speed of 36 knots and is also the first boat built for WETA that can safely dock at any of the system’s 12 ferry terminals.

The 320-passenger catamaran is the first in a series of four ordered by WETA from the Mavrik Marine shipyard in La Conner, Wash. Designed by Australia’s One2three Naval Architects, construction management services were provided by Aurora Marine Design of San Diego.

WETA plans to rotate the vessel among its routes to collect operational data and allow passengers across the ferry system to experience the boat. The vessel offers expansive outdoor passenger space to allow more riders to experience a fresh-air trip across the Bay.

“WETA is building a world class ferry system for the Bay Area and adding new vessels like M/V Dorado helps us get there,” said Jim Wunderman, Chair of the WETA Board of Directors. “This American-made ferry enhances the capacity of our fleet and provides additional flexibility for our operations, helping ensure we run the system as efficiently as possible. It also happens to be a beautiful ferry. We thank our local, state and federal partners for their investment in San Francisco Bay Ferry service.”

“We’re so grateful to our partners for helping us build out the San Francisco Bay Ferry fleet and system,” said Vice Chair Monique Moyer. “Ferry ridership is on the upswing. Our ability to serve those passengers relies on investment in new vessels and terminals and support for our highly skilled maritime labor force. M/V Dorado is another step toward building our ferry system out to its full potential while enhancing WETA’s emergency response capabilities.”

Under WETA’s Pandemic Recovery Program, which took effect in July 2021, ferry ridership is steadily growing. The program decreased fares 30 percent across the system and enhanced service to provide more flexibility for riders. In April, ridership on San Francisco Bay Ferry reached 55 percent of pre-pandemic levels, outpacing comparable regional agencies.

Vessel construction was funded through the Federal Transit Administration and the State of California’s Proposition 1B in collaboration with the California Office of Emergency Services.

M/V Dorado is the ninth U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Tier 4 or Tier 4 equivalent passenger ferry in WETA’s fleet. In 2017, WETA commissioned the the first Tier 4 equivalent high-speed passenger ferry in the U.S., MV Hydrus. In 2019, WETA commissioned the nation’s first Tier 4 certified high-speed passenger ferry, M/V Pyxis. Last month, WETA re-entered M/V Pisces into service after a successful conversion project replacing the vessel’s Tier 2 engines with cleaner Tier 4 engines.

WETA is expected to begin work on the agency’s first two zero-emission passenger ferries this year.

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