What is Golden Gate Ferry?
Golden Gate Ferry (GGF) is a passenger ferry company that operates in the San Francisco Bay Area. It is managed and operated by the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District.
Golden Gate Ferry provides an important transportation option for commuters, tourists, and San Francisco Bay Area residents. The ferry service reduces the need for long and congested car trips on the busy Golden Gate Bridge.
Where does Golden Gate Ferry Go?
For San Francisco Giants home games, there is a limited service from Larkspur to Oracle Park.
Additionally, limited service from Larkspur to Chase Center is provided for Golden State Warriors home games.
History of Golden Gate Ferry
In 1967, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors asked the Golden Gate Bridge and Highway District (GGBHD) to propose a plan for a ferry service between San Francisco and Marin County.
Arthur D. Little, Inc., completed the Feasability Study of San Francisco-Marin Ferry System report in July 1969.
The report concluded that a ferry system between San Francisco and Marin County was a viable option.
And that it should be operated by GGBHD.
GGBHD changed their name to Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District (District) on November 10, 1969 to be inclusive of the planned ferry system.
Ten months later, on Saturday, August 15, 1970, Golden Gate Sausalito Ferry service began with its first vessel, MS Golden Gate.
Signaling its plans for expansion, the District purchased 25 acres for the Larkspur Ferry terminal in February 1972.
And, in August 1972, the District contracted Campbell Industries of San Diego, California to build three Spaulding Class ferries for use on the Larkspur Ferry route, the second route in the ferry system.
Construction on the Larkspur Ferry terminal took place between September 1974 and December 1976.
Larkspur Ferry service began on Saturday, December 11, 1976, when the GT Marin, the first of three Spaulding Class ferries, was placed into service.
Commuter ferry service between Larkspur and San Francisco began two days later on Monday, December 13, 1976.
The second and third Spaulding Class ferries, GT Sonoma and GT San Francisco, entered service on March 7, 1977, and September 12, 1977, respectively.
In June 1978, construction on the San Francisco Golden Gate Ferry Terminal at the San Francisco Ferry Building was completed. This terminal is solely used by Golden Gate Ferry.
In 1982, a pedestrian overpass connecting the Larkspur Ferry Terminal and Larkspur Landing shopping center was constructed. It was opened on May 19, 1982.
Also, in the 1980s, all three Spaulding Class vessels were converted from gas turbine propulsion to diesel propulsion. This allowed Golden Gate Ferry to reduce fuel costs by 60% and maintenance costs by $300,000 annually.
In 1985, all three converted vessels were rechristened from Gas Turbine (GT) to new Motor Ship (MS) designations.
They were now known as the MS Marin, MS San Francisco and MS Sonoma.
In March 1986, Larkspur Ferry terminal expanded to include a covered passenger waiting area.
In June 1994, a fourth berth was completed at the Larkspur Ferry Terminal.
On September 8, 1998, the MV Del Norte, Golden Gate Ferry’s fifth vessel and first high-speed catamaran, began service on the Larkspur ferry route. It allowed GGF to expand service as well as complete the crossing between Larkspur and San Francisco faster.
GGF launched direct service between Larkspur and the San Francisco Giants baseball stadium (now Oracle Park) at the start of the 2000 Major League Baseball season.
In July 2000, construction on GGF’s sixth vessel and second high-speed catamaran, MV Mendocino, was completed. It was placed into service on the Larkspur Ferry route on Monday, September 10, 2001.
Now with two high-speed catamarans in their fleet, Golden Gate Ferry could run 41 weekday crossings on the Larkspur Ferry route, up from 26 previously.
On March 26, 2004, the MV Golden Gate was retired from service.
In January 2009, GGF purchased two vessels, the MV Snohomish and MV Chinook, from Washington State Ferries. The original purchase price for each was $2.2 million, but both vessels were completely refurbished at an estimated cost of nearly $10 million each.
The MV Snohomish began service on May 28, 2009 and shortly after, on June 10, 2009, it was renamed as the MV Napa.
In May 2011, the MV Chinook began service and, in June 2011, was officially renamed to the MV Golden Gate, the second passenger ferry to hold that name.
Between 2013 and 2015, the Larkspur ferry and terminal saw numerous improvements. Some of them include the following.
- The main parking lot at the terminal was repaved
- “The Wave”, a free ferry shuttle for to the Larkspur Ferry terminal, was launched
- An overflow parking lot at Larkspur Landing Circle was added. This added an additional 300 parking spaces for riders.
And, in December 2019, the Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit District (SMART) began commuter train service to Larkspur.
This allowed commuters in the North Bay to take a train to Larkspur and then catch the ferry into San Francisco.