Vela, a new 445 passenger ferry, begins service for San Francisco Bay Ferry

The San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) welcomed Vela, a new 445-passenger ferry, into the San Francisco Bay Ferry fleet. Vela is the second of three new high-speed, high-capacity ferries that will primarily serve North Bay routes. A third ferry, Lyra, is expected to arrive in early 2020.

Picture of Vela, a new 445 passenger ferry
Picture of Vela, a new 445 passenger ferry

Vela is the sixth new ferry in total WETA has added to its fleet since 2017. Hydrus, Cetus, Argo and Carina – all 400-passenger, 28-knot ferries – entered service between 2017 and 2019. Pyxis – WETA’s first 445-passenger jet-propelled ferry – entered service in March 2019.

“Demand for ferry service throughout the Bay Area continues to grow, and Vela will help us meet that demand,” said Nina Rannells, WETA’s executive director. “Our fleet now numbers 15 ferries and Vela has taken us past the 5,000-seat threshold. There really is a ferry renaissance happening on the Bay.”

The state-of-the-art ferry was designed to meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Tier 4 emissions standards and make the Vallejo-San Francisco transit in 60 minutes.

Vela was built in Anacortes, Wash., by Dakota Creek Industries, where its sister vessel Lyra is currently under construction. Funding sources for the $23 million Vela included California State Proposition 1B, bridge toll revenue, Federal Transit Administration grants and California Low Carbon Transit Operations Program funds.

Vela, pronounced “vee-luh,” is named for a constellation in the southern sky. The constellation’s name is Latin for the sails of a boat.

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