Commuting on the Water
By TH!NK by IBI
DateFebruary 5, 2018
With growing congestion problems in many major cities, should coastal and river cities embrace the boat in their public transit system? There are already integral ferry services as part of the public transportation network in cities like New York, San Francisco, and Vancouver. Could further expanding these services ease congestion? Could commuting on the water be a solution for cities like Los Angeles?
Vancouver sees it’s SeaBus as an absolutely essential part of it’s robust transportation network. The “bus” runs from Downtown Vancouver to Downtown North Vancouver every 15 minutes during peak times. At a total of 15 minutes from shore to shore, this is faster than the average 22 minute drive- without congestion. Utilizing the same card system as the rest of the network, this boat is a key example of how to get creative across a short span of water.
Recently, the forest fires in Southern California knocked out a major commuter highway. To handle the traffic that needed to get into Los Angeles, an emergency commuter ferry service was installed. This move had some people wondering if this could be a permanent fix for LA’s notorious congestion. Alissa Walker, for Curbed Los Angeles, argues that a ferry in the Santa Monica bay could ease the major congestion problems that plague Los Angeles’ west side. Looking at the commute from the South Bay area to Santa Monica (where you could then hop aboard the Expo line towards Culver City and Downtown LA), Walker notes that,
“If some drivers could hop on a ferry instead at the Manhattan or Redondo Beach piers and ride to Santa Monica, they’d take cars off the road and be guaranteed a reliable, stress-free commute. Bailey estimates that traveling the 10 miles from Manhattan Beach to Santa Monica would take 21 minutes at a speed of 27 knots (the speed of the Bay Area’s new ferry), compared to 30 to 50 minutes of driving in traffic.”
But would Angelino’s take the ferry? While public transit infrastructure has steadily increased in Los Angeles, it’s ridership numbers are still in decline. Could a boat that is guaranteed not to get stuck in congestion be more convincing than a subway?