Commuter ferry service is returning to the Richmond shoreline after a departure of almost 63 years.
The new service to the Ferry Building in San Francisco, operated by San Francisco Bay Ferry is scheduled to launch on Jan. 10. The opening falls on the same date that the first formal Richmond-San Francisco ferry service began almost a century earlier, in 1925.
Richmond has 32 miles of shoreline (tops among Bay Area cities) and in the days before bridges and highways were built, ferries were a key connection to reach Marin County and San Francisco. The new line is the fourth to operate out of Richmond and the first since 1956.
The earliest ferry from Richmond to San Francisco dates from 1900, according to early news accounts, and was informal and unsanctioned because Richmond had little population at the time. The Standard Oil of California refinery did not open until 1902 and Richmond had to wait until 1905 to achieve cityhood.
Regular scheduled ferry service, operated by the Golden Gate Ferry Company, started Jan. 10, 1925. The line was abandoned in August 1937, with the owner, by then a subsidiary of the Southern Pacific Railroad, citing financial losses. The decision came less than three months after the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge and nine months after the Bay Bridge was dedicated.
A new service from San Francisco started in 1942, bringing workers to the wartime Kaiser Shipyards. It was discontinued when the war ended.
More popular was the Richmond-San Rafael ferry line, which operated from Ferry Point in what is now Miller-Knox Regional Shoreline, from 1915 to 1956.
The auto ferry service took passengers to San Quentin and was even used to transport prisoners to the state prison. The service lasted until Aug. 31, 1956, a day before the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge opened to motor traffic.
The new ferry service will run from a dock outside the Craneway Pavilion at the Ford Point Building, 1414 Harbour Way South.
The dedication is set for at 1:30 p.m. Jan. 10 and festivities will include “ferries on board for short rides around the harbor along with music, refreshments and real-life “Rosies” coordinated through the nearby Rosie The Riveter/World War II Homefront National Historical Park,” according to organizers.
The San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority authorized the new route, which promises to make the trip to San Francisco in 35 minutes for a fare of $9 for adults, $6.75 for Clipper Card users, and $4.50 for the disabled, seniors and youths.
Near the terminal are free parking and 20 secure bike lockers.
For more information, check the website at https://sanfranciscobayferry.com/richmond.