WETA completes Bay Area ferry conversion project

(SAN FRANCISCO) – The San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) and Bay Area Air Quality Management District (Air District) have announced that WETA’s Gemini Class Clean Air Conversion Project has been completed, resulting in a substantial decrease in air pollution emissions from four San Francisco Bay Ferry vessels serving Oakland, Alameda and Richmond.

WETA already operates the cleanest ferry fleet in the country, and in September 2021 the board of directors continued that progress by approving a $5.5 million project to upgrade the engines and reduce emissions on the agency’s four Gemini-class vessels. The conversion to cleaner engines was completed over the course of 2022 and early 2023 at JT Marine in Vancouver, Wash.

WETA photo

Funding for the Gemini-class project came from the Air District’s Carl Moyer grant program and proceeds from the Alameda County Transportation Commission’s (Alameda CTC) sales tax Measure BB.

The four vessels were built with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Tier 2 engines about 15 years ago. The conversion project replaced those engines with EPA Tier 4 certified engines, the cleanest available. Nitrogen oxide (NOx) and hydrocarbon (HC) emissions are 73 percent lower and particulate matter (PM) emissions are 80 percent lower on each of the four vessels.

The project continues work that WETA started in 2019 when the agency built the nation’s first high-speed passenger ferry with Tier 4 certified engines. Today, 12 of the 16 ferries in the San Francisco Bay Ferry fleet are powered by Tier 4 engines, making it the cleanest high-speed, high-capacity passenger ferry fleet in the nation.

WETA has raised nearly $100 million to pioneer the operation of zero-emission ferry service in the U.S. Those funds will support construction of five small battery-electric ferries to serve Alameda, Oakland and San Francisco’s waterfront neighborhoods including the downtown core, Treasure Island and Mission Bay. Construction of the zero-emission vessels is expected to begin later this year.

WETA pursued the conversion project outside of regulatory requirements in its push to green its fleet. The vessels can be used on any of San Francisco Bay Ferry’s six routes, but are most frequently used in Oakland, Richmond, South San Francisco and Alameda. The new Tier 4 engines were manufactured by Germany-based MAN Engines.

– San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority 

By Rich Miller