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By Samuel R. Avro on Feb 3, 2009 with no responses

Hi-Tech Ferry Provides Nation’s Most Environmentally Friendly Commute


The Gemini, which features WiFi internet access, is capable of carrying 149 passengers and 34 bicycles.

The San Francisco Bay Area can now boast of providing the most environmentally friendly commute in the nation with the addition of their new hi-tech and environmentally friendly ferry boat called the Gemini, launched by the San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA).

Gemini’s exhaust is 85% cleaner than EPA emission standards for Tier II (2007) marine engines, and is ten times cleaner than existing Bay Area ferries, according to a press release.

“Gemini’s innovative design and propulsion technology shows that the Bay Area is on the forefront of environmental innovation. We responded to the concern of local communities for cleaner air and bay protection,” said WETA Board Chair Charlene Haught Johnson.

The new ferry is capable of holding 149 passengers and has room for 34 bicycles, 20% more capacity than similar size ferries on the Bay. A spigot and hose was installed for cyclists to wash off sea spray off their bikes.

The Gemini, as it's about to sail beneath the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, beats EPA emission standards by a wide margin.

The Bay Area is in the midst of upgrading its ferry commuter services in a bid to shift people from driving to work to ferrying there instead. The ultimate hope is to reduce the need for gasoline while providing a cleaner environment at the same time.

Reductions in emissions were achieved by incorporating selective catalytic reduction and a blend of biodiesel and ultra low sulfur diesel fuel. Two solar panels were also installed on the bridge deck, which are intended to gauge the feasibility of solar power in the Bay’s foggy conditions.

Other technologies on the ‘green’ ferry include, WiFi internet access for the boat’s passengers, sonar for avoiding whale strikes and floating debris, and a sleek hull design which reduces fuel consumption and minimizes shoreline response to wake impacts.

The design and construction of Gemini was managed by a woman, Mary Frances Culnane, WETA’s Manager of Marine Engineering, who previously had supervised tanker construction projects for Chevron Shipping Company and sailed as Chief Engineer for Exxon.

The additions don’t end with the Gemini either – this ferry is only the first in its plan to revolutionize the ferry industry.

In total, WETA is expecting to operate 4 new environmentally friendly and efficient boats by the end of 2010. They are expecting delivery of its next ferry, Pisces, in March 2009. In late 2009, two other vessels are scheduled for delivery.

The Gemini sails at a speed of up to 25 knots and also carries enhanced safety and security measures which include: CCTV, voyage data recorder, and surpasses T-Boat requirements for life saving apparatus.