Urban Fold

How The Golden Gate Bridge Got Into Transit

Unlike the nearby Bay Bridge that was built to accommodate the Key System streetcars, the Golden Gate displaced existing ferry service. Carl Nolte, the Chronicle's historian, provides the background for the 40th anniversary of its ferry service.

When the 6-county bridge district was set up, it was authorized to run only the bridge, which opened in 1937. It took an act of the state legislature to allow it to run its two transit systems -buses and ferries.

"The Golden Gate Bridge had driven the earlier San Francisco-Marin ferries out of business, and for 29 years the bridge was the only way to get from San Francisco to Sausalito.

But by the late '60s, the bridge was at capacity and consultants hired by the district recommended ferries as a short-term solution. The long-term answer, they said, was rail rapid transit under the bay to Marin.

A ferry system, the consultants said, would carry 8,000 to 11,000 daily passengers and would pay its own way.

That turned out to be a ferry tale...In the last fiscal year, the Golden Gate's Sausalito and Larkspur boats combined carried an average weekday load of 6,161 passengers. The ferries never came close to breaking even; the difference is made up by bridge tolls."

Thanks to Gladwyn d'Souza

Full Story: After 40 years, ferries thriving on S.F. Bay

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