Drop in ridership since Angel Island fire

November 14, 2008 3:43:44 PM PST
The 380-acre fire that closed Angel Island for about a week last month also significantly reduced revenue for the Tiburon Ferry, according to figures released this week.

Shayne Velasco, Tiburon Ferry's events coordinator, said revenue from the 10-minute trip to the island from Tiburon was down about $23,000 or about 35 percent last month compared to October 2007.

There were 13 cancellations by schools or day groups in October, Velasco said.

"We were in the high season until then," Velasco said of the fire that closed Angel Island between Oct. 12-20.

Day traffic to the Angel Island State Park also took a hit last month, Velasco said.

In November 2007, ferry ridership also decreased because of the cargo ship Cosco Busan's collision with the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, Velasco said.

Angel Island State Park Superintendent Dave Matthews said 4,438 passengers took the Blue and Gold Fleet ferry to the island from San Francisco last month compared to 5,991 riders in October 2007.

Last month 2,698 riders took the Tiburon Ferry to Angel Island compared to 4,158 passengers in October 2007, Matthews said.

There were 119 overnight campers on the island last month compared to 275 in October 2007, Matthews said. Campgrounds on the island have remained closed since the fire.

Carolyn Horgan, the Blue and Gold Fleet's vice president of operations, said overall ridership to Angel Island is "tracking about the same as last year."

The Marin County Fire Department said the blaze was caused by human activity, but the exact cause remains under investigation.

Marin County Fire Marshal Scott Alber said the fire started adjacent to a group of campsites. He said investigators are still interviewing people who were on the island the night it broke out.

With summer-like temperatures predicted for this weekend, Velasco is putting the word out that Angel Island is open below the island's perimeter road.

He said the Tiburon Ferry traditionally took campers to the island during the holidays but January and February "were a wash" because of the rainy season.

There is currently one roundtrip ferry from Tiburon to the island on Wednesdays through Fridays and four on weekends, Velasco said. There will be only weekend trips to the island in January and February.

But there are still some ferry riders who relish a trip to Angel Island on a rainy day, Velasco said. "Winter folk enjoy the rain."

Velasco and Matthews said the winter rains will green Angel Island again in time for the spring and summer seasons.

"It's not a big chunk of charcoal," Velasco said.


Load Comments