David Bailey

Santa Monica Bay Ferry Service

A possible route for ferry services around Santa Monica Bay

The San Francisco Bay Area just added another ferry to their growing system. In Southern California, a high-speed ferry service linking existing piers around the Santa Monica Bay would provide fast and comfortable service between beach cities for commuters, tourists, and locals. The beach cities of Los Angeles County are primarly connected only by Pacific Coast Highway which is frequency congested during rush hour traffic. Additionally, these areas are lacking with quality public transportation connections. A ferry service would provide an alternative route along the Santa Monica bay linking residents of Malibu and the South Bay with a 30 minute ride to jobs in Santa Monica. Additionally, the coastal areas of the county are some of the most popular with tourists attracted to the beaches. Both commuters and tourists are often willing to pay a premium for fast and comfortable service.

RouteLengthFerry Travel Time (34 knots)Ferry Travel Time (27 knots)Driving Travel Time
Malibu to Santa Monica11 miles18.5 minutes23 minutes32 minutes
Santa Monica to Manhattan Beach10 miles17 minutes21 minutes41 minutes
Manhattan Beach to Redondo Beach3.5 miles7.25 minutes9 minutes9 minutes
Ferry Travel Time assuming speed of 40 miles/hour (34 knots, the speed of the fastest ferries), 31 miles/hour (27 knots, the speed of the new San Francisco ferry), and 2 minutes for docking. Driving Travel Time assuming traffic congestion.

Santa Monica is the hub of Silicon Beach, but the city's housing prices have been growing rapidly along with the technology sector. These conditions have only exacerbated the terriable traffic congestion in Santa Monica and surrounding areas. A ferry service would encourage walking and cycling to destinations, something which Santa Monica is currently promoting. Ferry passengers from South Bay cities could easily walk or cycle to the ferry and continue their journey by foot or bicycle in Santa Monica. Additionally, Santa Monica connects with the popular Expo Line and already has a bike share system. For drivers, existing parking at Redondo Beach and Santa Monica could be used as these lots are sized for peak weekends and sit underutilized through the week. In Malibu a shuttle could connect with Pepperdine University and surrounding businesses. A ferry would also provide visitors in Santa Monica (and those coming to Santa Monica on the Expo Line) with an easy trip to Malibu, Redondo Beach, or Manhattan Beach without creating any corresponding traffic congestion.

PierParkingWalkingCyclingPublic Transportation
MalibuLimited parkingLimited connectionsLimited connectionsConnection to Metro bus. Potential for Pepperdine shuttle.
Santa MonicaUse existing parking lotsExcellent connections to Downtown Santa Monica including 3rd Street PromenadeExcellent connection to Beach Bike Path and Santa Monica Bike NetworkConnection to Expo Line, Big Blue Bus, and Metro buses
Manhattan BeachLimited parking, direct drivers to Redondo BeachExcellent connection to Downtown Manhattan BeachExcellent connection to Beach Bike PathConnections to Beach Cities Transit
Redondo BeachUse existing parking structureConnections to Redondo Beach hotelsExcellent connection to Beach Bike PathConnections to Beach Cities Transit, Torrance Transit, and Metro buses
All piers have excellent proximity to beaches, hotels, and tourist attractions. Other potential stops include Venice Beach and Hermosa Beach.

Last, by utilizing the existing pier infrastructure in the Santa Monica Bay, capital costs could be kept to a minimum. If service started between just Redondo Beach and Santa Monica, only one ferry would be requried to provide hourly service in each direction. (San Francisco's new ferry carries 400 people, 50 bikes, and cost $15.1 million.) After proving ridership potential, additional ferries and destinations could be added. Ferry service has been studied in the past, but never in a comprehensive and cost-effective manner. Los Angeles County could greatly improve transportation choices around the Santa Monica Bay by creating a fast and comfortable ferry service.


Reply to this article.


Email Me Photography Delicious Facebook Flickr 43 Things Github Instagram LinkedIn SummitPost Twitter Yelp