Bay Area ferries will require proof of payment when boarding instead of disembarking starting Aug. 10.
Before, a majority of deckhands were tasked with crowd control when disembarking which limited the number of ramps and vessel exits. Checking tickets during boarding will relieve traffic later on allowing additional exits to be operated, according to Thomas Hall, the public information and marketing manager of the Water Emergency Transportation Authority, or WETA.
According to a statement by San Francisco Bay Ferry, the Clipper card user experience, which accounts for around 95% of commuters, will remain virtually unchanged.
“Under the new system, our crews will be able to open two vessel exits on busier trips and there will not be a major bottleneck leaving the fare gates,” Hall said in an email. “It takes time to move people off of a boat and onto land. Anything we can do to speed that up will help people get to their destination a little quicker.”
Passengers who do not purchase tickets will be given a temporary slip that grants entry, but requires them to immediately buy tickets while on board. Consequences for refusing to pay the fare may include prevention from future rides.
This system was established on the Vallejo route but will now be standardized across all ferries. The increase in ridership in the past year led WETA to reconsider the ticket-checking process to speed disembarkment on high-demand routes, Hall said.
Hall noted that despite WETA’s 99% passenger satisfaction rate, the team wanted to smooth out the “point of friction” and leave loyal customers with positive experiences.
WETA’s policy changes also include collecting passenger feedback through various surveys such as Ferry Chats, where staff discuss improvement ideas with morning commuters. Ferry crews are also consulted about overall operations and how to implement new processes.
“[We want] to make sure that people will choose the ferry, not necessarily because it’s the fastest, although it often is much faster than driving and comparable with other transit boats, or not because it’s the cheapest, which it is from certain certain cities, but because it’s the nicest experience,” Hall said.