“Dollar days on the Bay,” How the San Francisco Bay Ferry is working to increase ridership amid COVID-19

Photo essay by Jonathan Roberts, CONTRIBUTOR

According to Ridership data and changes made due to COVID-19, the San Francisco Bay Ferry has adapted to the changes with a new normal in effect. According to San Francisco Bay Ferry’s website, “approximately 70-75 percent of the seats on each vessel are unavailable to ensure social distancing.” To increase ridership they created a promotion, ‘dollar days on the bay,’ that offers $1 fares one-way. In what would be roughly a $30+ round trip from Vallejo to San Francisco, it was only $2 during this promotion. Was the effort successful? A midday trip offered a glimpse to see how the promotion fared.

The fleet embarking from the Vallejo Ferry Building docked at the terminal to embark to San Francisco. The Vallejo Ferry Building offers views of a once federally operated Mare Island Naval Shipyard and is now used for industrial projects and more.

To encourage safety guidelines but also increase ridership on the SF Bay Ferry, the terminal promoted the campaign for November. Encouraging contactless payment via the Hopthru app. Previously tickets could be purchased through the ferry building.

The fleet crew aboard the SF Bay Ferry – Lyra greet and check in the first passenger on board the boat for the 2:30 p.m. departure.

A crew member awaits as more riders board through the ramp. The boat’s seating reflects safety measures implementing social distancing to assure a safe environment while also regulating face mask requirements while aboard.

Preparing for departure, the SF Bay Ferry – Lyra is empty. Most seats are closed off with social distancing yellow tape. This may be because of the time of day, as commuter times are typically early in the morning.

The SF Bay Vallejo ferry lends views to parts of Vallejo that often go unnoticed, giving riders who dare to step outside onto the platform a refreshing rush of coastal breeze and also views of Vallejo’s coastal landscapes and beauty.

The views offered by the SF Bay Vallejo Ferry show the stretch of the Bay Area, passing through the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge at every angle imaginable.

So close, yet so far. San Francisco shows its distinct skyline in the distance.

A culmination of landmarks offer San Francisco’s history in one shot. SF’s Alcatraz and Golden Gate Bridge. A midday ferry trip to San Francisco in the fall is a perfect look at the shore that sparkles.

The platform of the SF Bay Area Ferry offers a misty, breezy, view that after a while can become an overwhelmingly chilly and windy ride.

As the destination approaches, and the ferry building appears, bigger possibilities are imagined. In this new normal, and the safety and social distancing protocols that have been ramped as the surge in cases has increased, it was interesting to revisit a city I have not personally stepped foot in for months. It was an opportunity to see just how much it has changed especially during this time of year, and the start of the holiday season.