Fairfield votes to lower ferry fees

September 24, 2008 12:37:32 PM PDT
The Vallejo City Council unanimously approved a plan Tuesday night that would lower Baylink Ferry fares by up to 14 percent starting Nov. 1.

The reduction aims to lure back riders who stopped using the ferry after fares jumped in June.

The current price of an adult one-way ferry ticket from Vallejo to San Francisco is $15, up from $12.50 prior to June 1.

If the fares are reduced as transit officials hope, the adult one-way fare would decrease to $13.

The price of a monthly ferry ticket would decrease by 12 percent, from $330 to $290. Ten-day passes, tickets for reduced-price groups and other fares would be rolled back at a similar rate, Vallejo officials said.

The fare drop is contingent on the approval of $2.2 million in funding by several transportation agencies.

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission is expected to vote today on appropriating $1.9 million in toll bridge funds toward the ferry fare reduction plan.

The $1.9 million would be for one year only. Any future funding requests would be subject to the completion of the transfer of the operations of Baylink Ferry to the recently created Water Emergency Transportation Authority on July 1, 2009.

The $2.2 million would cover the operating costs of the ferry service for the rest of the 2008-09 fiscal year, allowing Vallejo to reduce the fares.

The ferry system faced a projected $1.9 million deficit in fiscal year 2008-09 because of rising fuel prices and a significant loss of ridership. Fares were raised on June 1.

In addition to the MTC's $1.9 million, another $150,000 would come from State Transit Assistance Funds from the Solano Transportation Authority and the remaining $150,000 would come from Transportation Development Act funds for Solano County.

The Solano Transportation Authority approved its $150,000 contribution Sept. 10 and the Solano County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote on its $150,000 contribution Oct. 7.

Vallejo officials hope the reduced fares, along with and the additional SolanoExpress/Baylink Route 78 and the local Route 5 bus service to the Baylink Ferry terminal, will help recoup the estimated 10-15 percent loss in ridership after the June ferry fare increase.

The SolanoExpress Route 78 is scheduled to begin service Oct. 6. It will be operated by Vallejo Transit in partnership with the Solano Transportation Authority. Commuter-style buses will connect to the Vallejo ferry terminal from Vallejo, Benicia, and Pleasant Hill and Walnut Creek BART.

A new express bus route operated by Napa VINE Transit will connect the Napa Valley to the ferry terminal in early 2009.

"I am pleased to be part of this plan to roll back the fares for riders of the Baylink Ferry between Vallejo and San Francisco," Mayor Osby Davis said in a news release.

"With the difficult economic times facing the city of Vallejo and the state of California, and the recent fluctuations in the price of gas, it is critical that we work together to continue to provide and maintain the affordability of the Baylink Ferry service for our riders and our residents," Davis said.


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