The San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) announced Friday that it has been awarded a $14.9 million grant from the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) to develop a high-frequency network connecting some of San Francisco’s fastest growing neighborhoods with battery-electric ferries.

The grant will fund the construction of ferries and shoreside charging infrastructure to support the San Francisco Clean Ferry Network, which will use zero-emission ferries to connect waterfront San Francisco neighborhoods including Downtown, Treasure Island and Mission Bay.

This grant, which was awarded through CalSTA’s Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program (TIRCP), is the latest in a series of grant awards that have been secured to support the new service. In 2020, WETA was awarded $9 million from CalSTA to design and build its first zero-emission ferry along with shoreside infrastructure. In early 2022, WETA won a $3.4 million Federal Transit Administration (FTA) grant to add an additional battery-electric vessel to the network.

This $14.9 million award funds construction of a third vessel for what will eventually be a four-vessel network. The grant also includes funds for the charging infrastructure needed to operate the service.

“San Francisco’s waterfront is home to some of the region’s fastest-growing new neighborhoods and this grant will help reduce traffic and improve air quality by connecting workers and residents with the country’s first high-speed, zero-emission ferry service,” said WETA Board of Directors Chair Jim Wunderman.

The S.F. Clean Ferry Network will be a major milestone in WETA’s transition to zero-emission ferry service, WETA said. The agency is currently completing a two-pronged study investigating both clean marine propulsion technology and shoreside infrastructure needs that will inform policy decisions going forward. Ferries aging out of San Francisco Bay Ferry service will be replaced with new zero-emission vessels. WETA may also convert some current ferries to zero-emission propulsion systems over the next decade.

More than three million passengers rode WETA’s San Francisco Bay Ferry service in 2019. WETA has delivered eight new ferries with a combined 3,255 seats since 2017, with three more vessels under construction. Under WETA’s Pandemic Recovery Program, San Francisco Bay Ferry’s ridership in June 2022 reached 63% of pre-pandemic levels.