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WETA's Role in Emergency Response

WETA’s Role in Emergency Response and Transportation Incidents
The Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) was created by the California State legislature in 2007 to operate public ferry service, expand ferry service on the San Francisco Bay, and is responsible for coordinating and providing ferry transportation response to emergencies or disasters affecting the Bay Area transportation system.

Emergency Response
During an emergency, WETA would function as both an operator of emergency water transportation services and as coordinator of the region’s water transit response. In coordination with the California Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), 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.

During response and recovery phases of an emergency, ferries will be essential resources for the following functions:
• Evacuation assistance
• 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

Regional Coordination
Extensive emergency planning has been completed for the region to date. WETA’s Emergency Response Plan, complements and enhances existing plans for transportation response, and its emergency activities will support and be supported by a regional response and recovery effort. Coordination of a water and land emergency transportation service plan of operations for movement of survivors and first responders will require multi-agency coordination with the state, regulatory and surface transportation agencies, organizations operating shelters and jurisdictions requesting transport.

WETA’s emergency water transportation operations are generally initiated at the request of, and directed by, Cal OES to address the response to incidents such as major earthquakes that destroy or disrupt normal transportations systems to the extent that only extraordinary measures may provide for movement of first responders and disaster service workers into the incident impact area and movement of survivors out of the impact area.

Cal OES coordinates the state’s transportation response to an emergency through a unit of agencies working together, called Emergency Function (EF) #1 Transportation. EF 1 Transportation is led by Caltrans and includes the California Highway Patrol (CHP), United States Coast Guard (USCG), the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and other agencies involved with overseeing, regulating or providing transit or transportation infrastructure. The figure below depicts the organization of EF 1 Transportation and its component agencies.

Emergency Response Coordination

EF1 Transportation supports the Cal OES State Operations Center (SOC) with transportation expertise, the status of the transportation network and available emergency passenger transportation assets enabling the state to prioritize the response and create a transportation service plan for the emergency. In its role within EF 1 Transportation, WETA provides maritime transit expertise and emergency water transportation service planning and coordination. WETA will manage and operate water transportation routes that provide service between ferry terminals as part of a larger transportation system that connects with care and shelter sites or base camps.

Public information regarding emergency ferry service will be coordinated with other transit operators in the region and disseminated through a variety of outlets including, the WETA/San Francisco Bay Ferry websites and passenger notification system BayAlerts, traditional news outlets, public information at ferry terminals and other means.

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 transbay transportation infrastructure such as a closure of the Bay Bridge or BART Transbay Tube, transit strikes, or major accidents. 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. Public information regarding increased ferry service is provided via, the WETA/San Francisco Bay Ferry websites and BayAlerts.

Further Resources
WETA’s Role in a Regional Emergency, 2016 (PDF)
WETA Emergency Response Plan, 2016(PDF)
Sign up for BayAlerts, a rider notification system which provides San Francisco Bay Ferry customers with important, timely, and customized ferry service information including emergencies.
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