Facebook to use ferries to get employees to work under trial program

Ferry boats like the ones on the left and right were used to bring Facebook workers to the Peninsula. Photo from Prop SF.

Daily Post Staff Writer

Ferries transported commuters across the Bay long before any of the bridges were built. Now, in a blast from the past, a private company will begin shuttling Facebook commuters into the Redwood City Port.

However, the people who use the Port to row, sail or do other water activities are not pleased to see the private ferries return after an initial pilot ended in 2016.
The Redwood City Port Commission on Wednesday (June 13) unanimously approved a contract with PropSF to conduct a six-month pilot program where the company will offer 10 trips daily (5 a.m. to 5 p.m.) from Emeryville, San Francisco and Tiburon to Redwood City and vice versa.

Port Commissioner Dick Dodge said yesterday (June 140 Facebook is the company behind the ferry program.

After getting off the ferry, commuters will board one of Facebook’s buses that will take them the rest of the way to the company’s offices in Menlo Park.

The two boats — at 65-feet and 52-feet — will shuttle up to 306 commuters every day, which will eliminate up to 300 cars a day, according to a letter from PropSF Client Manager Alex Kryska.

Boaters have reservations

Despite the benefits of ferries, some who use the port recreationally are concerned about the ferry service.

In 2016, PropSF conducted a prior trial with the Redwood City Port, and during that time, issues arose between the ferries and recreational boaters.

“In the previous run, the boats went too fast for those of us in human-powered crafts,” said Menlo Park rower George Duesdieker. “We row by tug boats and coast guard boats, dredging vessels and ocean liners, but the only thing that we could not deal with and that did not respect us was the water taxi.”

Duesdieker said the wakes caused by the PropSF boats sometimes caused for boaters to flip over.

However, according to a report from Port Operations Director Don Snaman, PropSF also brought forward concerns about the recreational boaters, who would sometimes go into the travel path of the boat.

A handful of recreational boaters went to Wednesday’s meeting to express their concerns about the ferries letting people off at Dock F, which is the dock most often used by the recreation programs.

Lorianna Kastrop, vice chair of the port commission, said that safety is her top concern, and as a result, added some conditions to the agreement with PropSF.

The conditions include:

• PropSF must assemble a meeting with the recreation groups to talk about how to co-exist in the channel.

• PropSF must have someone on the deck when a ferry is in the channel, radioing to the captain of the ship about anyone else using the channel.

• The boat, once it goes past Marker 10, must slow down to 5 mph, and create no wake.

Speed limit

However, Duesdieker and Palo Alto resident Vikas Bhatia, whose 13-year-old is learning how to sail, are concerned that PropSF will not adhere to the 5 mph requirement.

“Given the schedule proposed by Prop SF, I find it very hard to believe that their boats will be able to adhere to the 5 mph requirement included by Port Commissioner Kastrop in the permit,” Duesdieker said.

CEO of PropSF James Jaber said that his company has a perfect safety record, and his crew holds themselves to a “higher standard than your average mariner.”

PropSF also runs the commuter ferry to Oyster Point Marina for Genentech in South San Francisco.

1 Comment

  1. I’m not a fan of Facebook because of their stinky corporate ethics and data policies, but I salute them for trying to reduce car trips on 101 with ferries. I hope this test results in a permanent ferry program.

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