San Francisco Bay Area ferry operator Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) is expanding its fleet with new vessels in order to meet large ridership increases. By 2035, WETA expects to add a total of 44 new vessels to meet anticipated demand, which is expected to increase by as much as 900 percent.
As part of its larger fleet expansion strategy, WETA currently has three new ferries on order at the Dakota Creek Industries shipyard in Anacortes, Wash. that are due to enter service next year. The high-speed water jet ferries can carry up to 445 passengers at a top speed of 34 knots.
WETA is relying on Pacific Power Group (PPG) to design, install and maintain the propulsion systems for the three new builds. All three ferries will be powered by MTU Series 4000 engines designed to meet Tier 4 Final regulations. Each ferry will be fitted with two engines, two gear boxes, two propulsion shafts and a set of controls.
Pacific Power Group, which has a long history of working with WETA and other ferry operators in the Bay Area, will not only design and install the propulsion systems in the newest ferries, but will increase its capability to service the entire ferry fleet in the in the San Francisco Bay.
“This is truly a cradle-to-grave relationship between PPG, MTU and WETA,” said Doug Schwedland, PPG’s vice president of the marine division. “We worked very closely as a team to ensure the propulsion system would be an ideal match for WETA’s needs - from fuel efficiency to reliability to environmental sensitivity.”
WETA’s almost exclusive reliance on MTU engines has allowed the fleet to see continued efficiencies, especially in terms of shared parts inventory. The engines also run longer between maintenance intervals, at faster speeds and with decreased fuel costs. To ensure those performance standards are maintained, PPG will be staffing a full-time maintenance crew in the Bay Area for the first time in the company’s history.
“The faith that MTU has put in us to maintain the existing and new ferries is a great honor and one we look forward to upholding,” Schwedland said.
The first of the newest ferries, Pyxis, is expected to begin service early 2019 with the Vela and Lyra coming later in the year. WETA currently runs a fleet of 13 fast ferries, 11 of which are powered by MTU, and serves 2 million travelers a year.