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SF Port Director On Google Ferry: Relax, We’re Just Floating It.

on Thursday, Jan. 9th

This is only a test.

That’s what San Francisco’s port administration is emphasizing in its announcement of the rollout this week of Google ferry service that will shuttle about 150 of the company’s SF-based workers to Redwood City each day.

Those who’ve been following the tales of Google bus antipathy know that the ferry story emerged shortly after San Francisco announced it would tax private buses (which are used by quite a few other companies besides Google, but I digress) for use of certain SF MUNI zones, which didn’t do much to temper anti-bus critics who’ve cast the private coaches as pernicious symbols of San Francisco’s ongoing transformation fueled by the tech industry.

When the critique gets specific, it’s often focused on how the buses commandeer public streets and increase local traffic, even though they’re taking thousands of would-be daily commuters off regional freeways.

And if you’re into that kind of thing — i.e., focusing on the environmental impact as well as the social impact of the buses’ preponderance — it seems that distributing some of that commuter traffic to ferries might represent an even bigger reduction of carbon emissions. But then again, environmental watchdogs might ask, could the ferry service increase pollution in San Francisco Bay waters?

To that, the Port of San Francisco’s Deputy Director of Maritime Peter Dailey said (with apologies for the mixed traffic metaphors) – “Let’s cross that bridge when we come to it.”

Dailey pointed out that the Triumphant ferry would provide relatively nominal twice-a-day service, and that the rollout you’ve been reading about is just a 30-day trial.

“The jury’s still out,” Dailey told me, “and if it makes sense for the company, they’ll have to come back to the Port and see if they want to entertain a longer term deal.”

That’s when the Port would evaluate a proposal against the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and other regulatory considerations.

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