A year ago, the fate of the only ferry service between San Francisco and Angel Island State Park was uncertain.
This week, the ferry to the People’s State Park will continue in the future under an agreement between the state and the Golden Gate Bridge district.
The Bridge District officially resumed the ferry route from San Francisco to Angel Island on Monday and will make five round trips to the island on weekdays and four on weekends.
The district, which already operates a ferry service between San Francisco and Larkspur, Tiburon and Sausalito, is expected to operate the Angel Island route under a 10-year deal with California State Parks that is currently under consideration. The district plans to operate the ferry as a one-year pilot project and consider an extension at the end of the trial period.
“We certainly look forward to providing access to Angel Island for many years to come,” said district spokesperson Paolo Cosulich-Schwartz.
One-way fares, which includes park entrance fees, will be $ 14 for adults aged 19 to 64; $ 9 for Clipper card users; and $ 7 for people with disabilities, adults 65 and over, youth, Medicare beneficiaries, and Clipper START users. Up to two children aged 5 and under can ride for free.
The Bridge District is resuming service from the Delaware-based Blue and Gold Fleet, which had operated the route since 1997. The company transported about half of the estimated 175,000 annual visitors to Angel Island State Park before the pandemic.
Golden Gate will operate the route from the San Francisco ferry terminal rather than from Blue and Gold’s previous departure point, Pier 41.
In September 2020, Blue and Gold Fleet filed a request with the state to halt the ferry route as well as the only weekend ferry service between San Francisco and Tiburon due to financial losses.
In its claim to the California Public Utilities Commission, the company said it lost $ 1 million to $ 1.7 million per year between 2017 and 2019 on ferry trips between San Francisco and Tiburon. For its San Francisco-Angel Island routes, the company reported annual losses ranging from about $ 334,000 in 2017 to about $ 883,000 in 2019.
The request is still pending.
Had the route been cut short before a replacement was found, the only way for visitors to get to the island would have been from Tiburon via Angel Island-Tiburon Ferry Co.
The one-square-kilometer island has a long, varied and sometimes controversial history. Before the arrival of European settlers, the Coast Miwok people used the island as a feeding and hunting ground. An American immigration station was built on the island in 1910 as a western counterpart to Ellis Island in New York. The station was built to enforce the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and treated or detained approximately 500,000 people from 80 countries from 1910 to 1930, according to the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation.
Foundation president Edward Tepporn said the loss of ferry service from San Francisco would equal New York’s loss of its ferry route to the Statue of Liberty or Ellis Island.
The foundation raised concerns about the rates initially offered by the Bridge District, which in some cases were 60% higher than Blue and Gold Fleet rates and did not include the park entrance fee. The district administration board finally voted in November to include the $ 3 park entrance fee in the rates.
While the adult fare for non-Clipper card users will be higher than before – $ 28 compared to $ 19.50 under Blue and Gold – the fare for Clipper card users will be cheaper at $ 18 one way – return.
“We look forward to the new partnership with Golden Gate Ferry and thank them for listening to community feedback regarding their proposed fares,” Tepporn said.
The Bridge District has a history with the Blue and Gold Fleet, having resumed its weekday shuttle service from Tiburon to San Francisco in 2017.
You can find more information on the ferry route, timetables and prices at goldengate.org/ferry/angel-island-ferry/.