The Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA), which manages the ferry service in California’s San Francisco Bay, is deliberating the use of a hovercraft fleet to accommodate commuters living in areas inaccessible by traditional marine transport.
WETA vice chairman Jim Wunderman presented the proposal as a possible solution to the problem of providing ferry access to Bay Area coastal communities that are otherwise hampered by wake restrictions and shallow draughts.
Hovercraft could also operate at higher speeds without compromising passengers’ safety and while being comparable in price to traditional ferries, Wunderman adds.
Previous attempts at operating a hovercraft ferry service in the Bay Area in 1965, 1976, and 1984 were all unsuccessful due to high costs and a host of technical problems.
However, technological advances made through the years have helped mitigate those problems and turned hovercraft into viable alternatives to traditional ferries for traveling short distances, said Marty Robbins, a WETA official and former Alaska-based hovercraft operator.
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