Summer Water Shuttle Halted; Two-Year Program Moves Forward

File photo
File photo

Summer Water Shuttle Halted; Two-Year Program Moves Forward

The City of Alameda’s plan to conduct a three-month water shuttle pilot program this summer has been canceled. The shuttle was going to provide free transportation three days a week, between the foot of Fifth Street at Alameda Landing and the foot of Broadway at Jack London Square in Oakland. There were also plans to have a midday lunchtime service to Marina Village.

According to City of Alameda Senior Transportation Coordinator Rochelle Wheeler, the program was canceled because the shuttle boat they were planning to use for the service is not Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessible.

“We were working with [Water Emergency Transit Authority] WETA on that to administer a contract with a private operator and unfortunately, due to some lack of communication and lack of clarification, we found out very late in the game that the only boat that was available is not ADA accessible,” said Wheeler to the City of Alameda Transportation Commission at its May 24 meeting.

However, the plan for a two-year pilot service, which will run five days a week on dates to be determined, appears to be moving forward. The service is slated to begin spring of 2024.

The City of Alameda received a $1 million grant from the Alameda County Transportation Commission (ACTC) for the two-year program. The funding is part of ACTC’s 2024 Comprehensive Investment Plan (CIP). At its May 25 meeting, the ACTC’s CIP allocated more than $300 million in funds toward multiple transportation investments throughout Alameda County.

The $1 million grant will cover just 25% of the total cost of the two-year pilot program. The other $3 million will come from a variety of sources. The City of Alameda is scheduled to contribute $150,000 with a matching $150,000 from Measure BB funds. WETA will contribute $190,000.

The rest of the funds will come from private Oakland and Alameda businesses and nonprofits such as the Jack London Square Property Management Company, Jack London Square Improvement District, Blue Rise Ventures (the owners of the Marina Village Business and Research Park), Alameda Transportation Management Association. The City of Oakland will also contribute to the program. WETA agreed to administer the pilot program, which would be operated by WETA or a contractor to WETA.

“We’ll be using all the work we did this past six months to start up that two-year pilot,” said Wheeler. This effort we’ve put in these past five months or so has been super useful and one of them is that we really need to focus on getting a boat that will work for the service.”

In April, for the three-month pilot program, transportation staff conducted a survey to gather information from residents on how a free water shuttle would impact their work and non-work commutes (“,” April 18). In all, 2,373 residents responded. The survey results revealed:
• 87 percent would use it for non-work commutes.
• 48 percent would use it for their work commute.

The survey results also revealed most commuters would use the service Monday through Friday, between the hours of 7 to 9 a.m. and 4 to 6 p.m. Also, of the more than 1,400 people who said they would use the ferry for their work commute, about two-thirds work outside of Alameda.

In 2009, the city’s Estuary Crossing Study recommended a water shuttle as the medium-term solution to closing the gap between Alameda and Oakland on the west end. A bicycle-pedestrian bridge is planned to be built in the area. However, a successful bridge planning process would not result in a new bridge for at least 10 years. City staff believe the water shuttle will be a good interim solution until the bridge is built.