Saturday, April 1, 2017

Your tax dollars at work

Everyone loves to complain about taxes; I'm no exception.

But once in a while you get to see your tax dollars at work. For example, The new 400 passenger MV Hydrus enters service in April.

The Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) is pleased to announce the arrival of the M.V. Hydrus, the first of four Hydrus Class vessels that will join WETA's San Francisco Bay Ferry fleet over the next three years. Hydrus Class vessels can carry 400 passengers and 50 bikes at an operating speed of 27 knots (31 miles per hour). The Hydrus, which is expected to enter service in early April, will replace the MV Encinal on the Alameda/Oakland/San Francisco route.

Here's a data sheet with (slightly) more details about the Hydrus, calling it "the cleanest 27 Knot, 400 Passenger Ferry in the World", which is an oddly-specific claim to fame.

The Hydrus replaces the Encinal, which is ANCIENT, by reasonable measures: it first entered service in 1985.

Here's a fascinating data sheet about the current 11-ship fleet, as well as the 7 new vessels being added over the next 3 years.

The ferry I most commonly ride is the Bay Breeze; I also regularly ride the Peralta. Both are quite nice, really, if clearly getting on in years.

After the Encinal is replaced, the Bay Breeze will be the oldest vessel in the fleet, together with the Vallejo. The Vallejo is scheduled to be retired in 2018; the Bay Breeze is scheduled to run until (at least) 2020, according to the fleet card. (Although the fleet card doesn't say what will replace the Bay Breeze; it has rather specific requirements because its regular dock is the smallest and least-protected.)

The new vessels appear to be American-made: Kvichak Marine is located in Seattle, while Dakota Creek is located in nearby Anacortes.

Interestingly, neither website lists any of these ferries among their "recent projects."

Anyway, the pictures of the new Hydrus look beautiful; I'm excited about soon seeing her out on the water, and will cheerfully bid a fond farewell to the Encinal.

Oh, and your tax dollars? Well, thank you very much, all who participated:

The Hydrus Project is funded by:
  • Governor’s Office of Emergency Services State Proposition 1B - $4.0 million
  • Metropolitan Transportation Commission Regional Measure 2 - $8.3 million
  • Alameda County Transportation Commission Measure B/BB - $4.7 million

Ferries are not cheap to build, nor to operate, and of course the construction and operation of these ferries is of the utmost importance.

So far, things look to be progressing well in the WETA fleet.

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