Overview of Ferry Operations Today
Golden Gate operates three passenger ferry routes across the San Francisco Bay connecting Marin County with the City and County of San Francisco: Larkspur-San Francisco, Sausalito-San Francisco, and Tiburon-San Francisco. Today, Golden Gate Ferry operates 42 weekday and 8 weekend/holiday crossings on the Larkspur route, 18 weekday and 12 weekends/holiday crossings on the Sausalito route, and 14 weekday crossings on the Tiburon route. Golden Gate Ferry does not operate on New Year’s, Thanksgiving, and Christmas days.
Headquartered in Larkspur, California, in central Marin County, under the direction of the Deputy General Manager for the Golden Gate Ferry Division, 90 employees are responsible for the operation of the ferry fleet. The workforce includes vessel masters (captains), operations supervisors, terminal agents, deckhands, mechanics, and storekeepers, in addition to supervisory and administrative personnel.
Each weekday, operations supervisors, terminal personnel, vessel masters, and crew arrive by 5:00 a.m. to prepare the vessels for departure. The team effort begins in the vessel’s power plant as operators conduct daily inspections of engines, generators, bilges, tanks, and other key systems. Deckhands replenish the water supply before double-checking the cleanliness of passenger areas. Vessel masters, working from the pilot house, receive updates on weather, tidal, and traffic conditions as terminal agents and operations supervisors begin greeting passengers.
By 5:45 a.m., the first of many trips across San Francisco Bay is underway. The round-the-clock activity continues back on shore with maintenance crews and administrative staff ensuring that all runs smoothly. Swing and grave shift crews work throughout the night inspecting, maintaining, and repairing vessels in preparation for another day’s operation on the Bay.
All Golden Gate Ferry vessels are part of an on-going maintenance program established to assure reliable and safe mechanical operation. In addition to daily and weekly inspections, all vessels must undergo annual dry docking for a rigorous top to bottom inspection and other modifications as required by U.S. Coast Guard standards.
The depths in the Larkspur Channel must be maintained by periodic dredging in order for the vessels to be able to reach the Larkspur Ferry Terminal. The 13,000-foot channel is dredged periodically to maintain a depth of 13 feet. Shoaling (a process whereby the channel progressively fills with silt over time) occurs at an average rate of a half-foot per year.