Welcome back to Dock-tionary, where we help ferry fans learn how to speak boat. This month, we’re here to explain dredging – what it is, why we do it, and the important role it plays for some of our services.
Welcome back to Dock-tionary, where we help ferry fans learn how to speak boat. This month, we’re talking about deadhead trips – what they are and how they help to keep ferries on schedule.
“Deadhead” is a common term used by public transit operators, as it refers to vehicles or vessels that are running without any passengers aboard. Deadhead trips are also referred to as non-revenue trips due to the absence of fare-paying riders. These trips are commonly built into operational schedules to enable the flexibility of our fleet to offer as many trips as possible with the resources available.
Throughout the San Francisco Bay Ferry network, you could see ferries on deadhead trips during the early morning, early afternoon, or late evening. During these times of day, ferries may be leaving or arriving at the maintenance facilities, heading between terminals to start a new trip, or might have just dropped off the last group of passengers for the day. While we have limited the number of non-revenue trips to maximize rider flexibility, some of these trips remain useful to reposition ferries.
Related to deadhead trips when it comes to vessel repositioning is the concept of interlining, which basically means that a single ferry and crew may have departures on multiple different routes in a single shift. This is done to maximize efficiency. One new example in our schedule combining a deadhead trip with an interlined trip: one of our afternoon crews now “deadheads” from Mare Island to Richmond in order to provide a 2:00 PM Richmond departure to Downtown San Francisco. Following that drop-off, the crew enters service on the Vallejo route.
Our team is constantly looking for ways to maximize efficiency and provide as much good service as possible.