Conceptual plans to expand San Francisco’s Ferry Terminal have been drawn, the project’s potential environmental impacts are being reviewed, and Sinbad’s days are numbered.


As proposed and rendered below, the expansion includes three new berthing facilities, new covered passenger queuing areas, and a new public Embarcadero Plaza located between the Ferry Building and Agriculture Building, infilling the existing lagoon.


The detailed Ferry Terminal Expansion plan, timing and new ferry services (think Berkeley, Richmond and Treasure Island) are as follows:

The San Francisco Ferry Terminal Expansion plan includes:

  1. The construction of three new ferry terminal berthing facilities (Gate A in the North Basin, and Gate F and Gate G in the South Basin);
  2. The removal of Pier ½ and Pier 2 to accommodate the construction of the new ferry terminal berthing facilities;
  3. The construction of three, new, photovoltaic canopies (located in front of Gate A, Gate B, and perpendicular to Gates E, F, and G); and
  4. The construction of the new Embarcadero Plaza, which would infill an existing lagoon with a new deck and piles and create a new open space between the Ferry Building and Agriculture Building.

In terms of timing and new ferry services, the project will likely be constructed in two phases with the North Basin improvements slated to start in 2014 to support new Berkeley and Richmond ferry services scheduled for 2015/2016.  The South Basin improvements would be phase two, timed to coincide with the start of the Treasure Island ferry service which is scheduled to commence in 2016/2017.

And yes, in addition to the parking pad upon pier ½ and the lagoon to the south of the Ferry Building, Sinbad’s which sits upon San Francisco’s Pier 2 would be history.


25 thoughts on “The Plans To Expand San Francisco’s Ferry Terminal And Service”
  1. I’ve never ridden a ferry, but aren’t they slow? And subject to weather conditions (of which there are many in the bay area)?

  2. I commuted for years to Alameda on the ferry — it was fast. I rolled my bike on and off — it was the best. No tunnel, no bridge. Enjoyed the paper and espresso on the Bay. Looking forward to more ferries, water taxis. More please and soon.

  3. Will these new ferry lines also be taxpayer-subsidized at more than $100 per passenger trip, like the most recent new ferry service?
    Why does Berkeley need a ferry line that duplicates a 2 stop bart run, except that bart doesn’t burn diesel and has more convenient stations?

    1. Even from Ashby, it’s 4 BART stops before Embarcadero… and most Berkeley commuters would be coming from North Berkeley, or maybe Shattuck. Moreover, the ferries will (ably) serve the west Berkeley area (including the still-growing area around 4th Street, and San Pablo, both of which are *far* from BART).

  4. Interesting… that concrete & glass pyramid thing at the end of the ferry plaza is BART infrastructure for the transbay tube. I had no idea. I think it’s hideous but at least now I know why it’s there.

  5. The ferry terminal in Berkeley is a long way from the BART station. Maybe there’s demand in the terminal area–I don’t know.
    Why can’t they get creative and leave Sinbad’s in place? Less isn’t always more.

  6. Oh well, it couldn’t last forever.
    For many years you could park your motorcycle mixed in with the bicycles along the wall at the street side of the lagoon and never, ever, get a ticket.
    30 feet from the Public Market on Saturdays.

  7. And subject to weather conditions (of which there are many in the bay area)?
    I had to laugh at this one. The Bay Area has fewer “weather conditions” than just about any place I can think of. Where else have you possibly been that makes you think that we have “many” weather conditions in the Bay Area? lol lol lol lol lol

  8. Yes, yes, and yes! More development/infill and infrastructure to support expanding our under utilized ferry/water taxi transportation. Love the expansion of public space with the plaza over the lagoon. Maybe floating housing developments similar to those being built now in the Netherlands will follow?

  9. This makes no sense. Every attempt at new service routes has resulted in huge losses. They need to put this money into modalities that are popular and at least marginally profitable. I love the ferries but only a few routes have proven sustainable.

  10. I used to use the ferry service. Fast! Very fast. A great way to relax and have a cup of coffee. Now, I would prefer the ferry service to going in a tube under the water, or the Golden Gate or Bay Bridge, as long as I wasn’t headed anywhere but where the ferries serve.

  11. It’s about time Sinbad’s goes. It’s an anomaly that doesn’t fit in to the area at all. I would love to know the story of how they rented the space in the first place and how they have been able to hold on to it for so long when other restauranteurs would have probably paid 5x the rent.
    The other buildings behind the Ferry Bldg (Golden Gate Ferry Terminal and BART Transition Structure) are also soreley in need of refurbishment.

  12. “I love the ferries but only a few routes have proven sustainable.”
    Well despite what it might seem from the “planning” of public transit in the Bay Area in recent history you clearly need to plan land-use around ferries or BART stations or VTA lightrail or people will not (or cannot) ride.
    “They need to put this money into modalities that are popular and at least marginally profitable.”
    Such as?

  13. Will there be a water taxi stop here as well? Doesn’t appear so from the renderings. That would be too bad.
    [Editor’s Note: A water taxi stop is not part of the current expansion plan for the Terminal, plug in tomorrow for additional project details and background.]

  14. I’ll miss the bar at Sinbad’s – the view of the Bay Bridge from there can’t be beat. It definitely has a funny, retro 70’s feel to it that cracks me up.
    Based on the grilled cheese sandwich I had at the bar one time, I would surmise that the rest of the food is god-awful.

  15. The main ferry docking area seems under used. For expansion, why don’t they put more ferry slips of the existing main dock?

  16. Michael, I’d guess that’s because they don’t actually want to funnel that many ferry passengers *through* the Ferry building. It’s a food mall now, after all. This expansion will let people off on either side of the Ferry bldg directly to the Embarcadero.

  17. The expansion has to reflect both recent and all future developments and possibilities: In addition to space for the new, smaller, faster (and elite) water taxis, there should be docks for 24 hr. max public parking for small emissions-free boats (no Diesels, no large sailboats). Or even small solar-electric boats in a new system modeled on carshare. The only public dock and launch is miles away at Pier 52, and this also should not be competition for/replication of guest docking at South Beach.

  18. Is there any financial report on existing routes? I’m skeptic on any new routes except Treasure Island. It is a niche service to a small market. Not really a efficient use of public fund.
    The Oakland to South San Francisco route ridership is far below expectation. The route never make sense to me to start with.

  19. What is also needed is more parking at and bus service to, the Alameda main street ferry terminal. Its already overflowing with the existing runs.
    As to the comment that “aren’t ferries slow and subject to bad weather?”. Not really. Its 20 mins dock to dock Alameda main st to the Ferry building in SF, which is faster than driving OR BART and the boats are catamarans which are very stable even in choppy water. I use it daily and its the best commute I have ever had.

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