Projected Ridership and Parking Analysis

Based on data released to the Berkeley/Albany Ferry Committee by the Water Tranit Authority on June 7 2002

Conditions and assumptions:

Berkeley - San Francisco route.

$3.35 one-way ticket price (in 2002 dollars)

Ferry terminals also located in Richmond and Hercules.

Ridership estimates are for the year 2025.

Assumed annual ridership growth rate is initially between 4% and 7% per year, with 80% of the growth total occurring in the first ten years.


a) With parking free and unconstrained:

3,600 one-way or 1,800 round trips per day.

890 parking spaces required at the Berkeley terminal.

b) With a $2.00 parking fee:

2,700 one-way or 1,350 round trips per day.

590 parking spaces required at the Berkeley terminal.

Passenger mission breakdown: 48% commute, 18% "shopping," 30% recreation, 4% non-commute work-related.

Access breakdown: 74% drive, 22% use transit, 4% "other" (bike or walk).

Interesting trends indicated by the survey results:

Recreational ridership is more price-sensitive than commuter ridership. That is, a higher price has less negative effect on commuters than on recreational ferry passengers, contrary to accepted assumptions about relative market elasticity of the two categories.

Farebox recovery is about 50% (implying that total cost per trip is about $6.70).


The ticket price and farebox recovery rate validates the preliminary economic analysis presented elsewhere on this website:- i.e., actual cost of $6.70 is reasonably close to the $6.28 estimate applicable to the proposed Berkeley Pier 18-knot scenario. The shorter distance, lower speed, and reduced crew requirements (single-deck design) of the Berkeley Pier proposal should more than make up for the discrepancy.

To estimate ridership statistics for 2010, five years after startup in 2005, assume growth to 80% of the 2025 numbers after ten years and 5.5% annual growth for the previous five years. Five-year levels will then be 0.8 x 0.945^5 = 0.5566 or 60% of the announced 2025 numbers.

For the free unconstrained parking scenario (1800 round trips and 890 parking spaces in 2025), this works out to 1,080 round trips per day and 534 parking spaces required in 2010.

If the subsidy level is lower and the ticket price is a few dollars higher, then it is probably more realistic to use the "constrained parking" estimates (1350 round trips and 590 parking spaces in 2025). We would then have 810 round rips per day and 354 parking spaces required in 2010.

This is entirely consistent with the Berkeley Pier option, which uses a location immediately adjacent to 410 existing parking spaces (and existing frequent bus service, and deep water, and the shortest route, and no conflict with the Eastshore State Park or other commercial development or park acquisition plans).

The ridership estimate of 810 round trips per day is fully consistent with the level of service suggested in the Berkeley Pier proposal, which calls for eight departures per day by a single 149 passenger vessel, accommodating 1192 round trips. The economic analysis of the Berkeley Pier proposal assumes the vessel is 2/3 full on the "forward" commute and 1/3 full on the "reverse" commute, for a total of 596 round trips. WTA's data suggests that this analysis is conservative.

Objections to the Berkeley Pier location are based primarily on the projected growth of parking demand, which could exceed the capacity of this part of the Marina within a few years after 2010. There would be negative impacts on other Marina activities if parking becomes scarce or expensive.

One approach is to plan to relocate the ferry terminal to the foot of Gilman Street or Fleming point as the service matures, provided this is consistent with land use plans on that portion of the waterfront. Or, to remain in the Berkeley Marina, additional parking demand could be handled in several ways:

1) Suppress ridership growth by Increasing the ticket price to match the actual cost. This would lead to an unsubsidized service with a ticket price of approximately $6.50. Safeguards to make the ferry accessible to low and moderate income riders (e.g. free passage for bicycle riders and other selective discounts) would be important if market pricing is used.

2) Increase incentives and services for non-automotive access to the ferry terminal (e.g. parking fees or a dedicated feeder bus system) to suppress the projected increase in parking demand.

3) Build a multi-level parking structure. Cost recovery via parking fees would be problematic because of the reliance of mearby Marina activities on free and available parking.

Based on current land uses, determination of the most economical terminal location beyond 2010 probably depends on the relative cost of providing adequate parking in the Berkeley Marina compared to the cost of maintaining a dredged channel to Gilman Street or Fleming Point.

If Gilman Street and Fleming Point become developed for commercial use or acquired for park land, similar parking constraints will apply at those locations and they will not be competitive with the Berkeley Pier proposal.