WETA's Role in Emergency Response and Transportation Incidents
Under SB 976, the Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) is responsible for coordinating and providing ferry transportation response to emergencies or disasters affecting the Bay Area transportation system. Below is a description of WETA's roles and responsibilities in emergency response and during an incident that disrupts the regional transportation infrastructure.
In the event of an emergency disrupting the regional transportation system, WETA is authorized to coordinate Bay Area maritime response for the transportation of passengers by ferry vessels and the provision of ferry service. WETA will:
• Coordinate response efforts with local, state and federal agencies as well as coordinate emergency water transportation response with Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District (GGBHTD ) and private passenger vessel operators
• Provide passenger water transit service under the operating name San Francisco Bay Ferry
During response and recovery phases of an emergency, ferries will be essential resources for the following functions:
• Movement of survivors
• Assisting with transportation of first responders and disaster service workers
• Provision of basic mobility for the public, especially in corridors where bridges or passenger rail systems are affected
Extensive emergency planning has been completed for the region to date. WETA's Emergency Response Plan complements and enhances existing plans for transportation response. WETA emergency activities will support and be supported by a regional response and recovery effort. No single transportation or emergency response agency has resources sufficient to cope with any and all emergencies. During such an event, WETA will work to effectively communicate and coordinate with other local, state, and federal emergency response organizations as well as connecting transit agencies.
As defined in State and Federal guidance plans for a catastrophic emergency in the Bay Area, WETA will participate in Emergency Function/Emergency Support Function #1 Transportation (EF/ESF #1 – Transportation) in the Regional Emergency Operations Center (REOC) or the State Operations Center (SOC), specifically to coordinate requests for water transit service. EF/ESF #1 – Transportation is led by the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) and consists of representatives from California Highway Patrol (CHP), U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), WETA, and other agencies. The intent is for these agencies to (a) coordinate and communicate as necessary; (b) provide information on the status of the transportation network and available emergency passenger transportation services; and (c) move towards the restoration of regional mobility.
In an emergency, the SOC or the REOC will prioritize requests for assistance based on severity and enlist EF/ESF #1 – Transportation to coordinate the services required to accomplish the request (see chart above). This could include coordination of multiple transportation services. For example, in the event of an earthquake requiring the movement of people out of downtown San Francisco to Oakland, EF/ESF #1 – Transportation would depend on WETA to coordinate passenger ferries to move people out of San Francisco, CalTrans, CHP or local law enforcement would work to make sure the connecting roads surrounding the Oakland ferry terminal are cleared and functional and MTC would coordinate with transit agencies such as AC Transit to provide buses to pick up the San Francisco passengers from the Oakland ferry terminal.
Provision of Transit Services
During an emergency and in coordination with the SOC and the REOC, WETA will provide passenger water transit service through its operating arm, San Francisco Bay Ferry, which operates the Alameda/Oakland, Harbor Bay, Vallejo and South San Francisco ferry services. Depending on the emergency, WETA will provide increased capacity on existing San Francisco Bay Ferry routes using its own resources and through mutual aid/agreements with other ferry operators for use of their available assets.
Response to Transportation Incidents
In addition to emergency response services, WETA regularly works to provide ferry service response to regional transportation incidents causing disruptions to regional transbay transportation infrastructure such as a closure of the Bay Bridge, BART or AC Transit strikes, closure of the BART Transbay Tube, or major accidents impeding access through the MacArthur Maze. While not necessarily a true emergency, these incidents can cause major traffic delays which can bring mobility to a halt and affect the regional economy. In such circumstances, WETA/San Francisco Bay Ferry responds as a transit agency, coordinating with MTC and connecting transit agencies to provide increased levels of water transit services to meet the demand.
To learn more, see Additional Resources.