Bay Area Newcomer Carries Tier 4 Torch For Ferries

Professional Mariner|American Ship Review 2020

Bay Area Newcomer Carries Tier 4 Torch For Ferries
With the sun rising, Pyxis made its way up the Napa River and docked at the Vallejo Ferry Terminal. In 15 minutes, loaded with commuters, the fast catamaran backed out of its slip and headed for the San Francisco Ferry Building on the Embarcadero, one hour away.
Brian Gauvin

The new ferry, the first of three scheduled to join the Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) fleet by early 2020, has quickly become a familiar sight on the Vallejo-San Francisco run. In addition to boosting capacity on the busy route, Pyxis is also carrying another torch: It is the first passenger ferry in the United States with EPA Tier 4 emissions controls. The new- build’s MTU engines, currently undergoing emissions testing, are expected to be Tier 4 certified in the near future.

The 143-foot Pyxis was designed by Advanced Multihull Designs (AMD) of Australia and built by Dakota Creek Industries in Anacortes, Wash.

When sisters Lyra and Vela are delivered, Dakota Creek — no stranger to the Bay Area’s busy water transportation system — will have built six fast ferries for WETA. Three more operate in the Golden Gate Ferry fleet.

The region’s highways, bridges, buses, trains and ferries are choked with commuters every weekday. The speed and capacity of the new ferries, with each accommodating up to 445 passengers, will help WETA handle a projected 900 percent increase in ridership by 2035. The ferry service expects to add 44 vessels to its fleet by then.

The Vallejo-San Francisco route is WETA’s longest and most popular run. Pyxis conducts two morning and two late-afternoon commuter transits.

“Vallejo ferry passengers are going to love riding Pyxis,” Nina Rannells, WETA’s executive director, said when the ferry was delivered in March. “Our ridership has doubled since 2012, and we are working to grow our fleet to accommodate this growth. Pyxis is perfectly suited for Vallejo service with the highest passenger capacity in our fleet and a 34-knot speed.”

The design criteria for the new ferry required it to carry 100 more passengers than previous AMD ferries, maintain a 34-knot service speed to complete the Vallejo run in one hour, and have a pollution control system that would satisfy California’s hunger for clean air. Pyxis also had to be compatible with existing docks and boarding ramps, and have the same bow servicing system for fuel, sewage, potable water and shore power as the existing fleet.


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American Ship Review 2020