Much the way private shuttle buses like Chariot have been invading San Francisco for several years and providing more comfortable alternatives for the Muni-averse, a new public/private ferry service has just launched called Tideline, offering small-scale water taxis between San Francisco and the Berkeley Marina, and between San Francisco and Richmond. As KRON 4 reports, though, there seems to be a bit of a disagreement between the company and the City of Berkeley, with the latter saying Tideline hasn't yet gotten their permit to operate in the city.

The company, launched in November by some Marin County residents, says they thought they already had the green light from Berkeley, and their website says they're "an official Port of San Francisco water transportation service offering public and private commuter service." Launching this morning at 7:30 a.m. was the public Berkeley ferry line, which they say takes 20 to 30 minutes each way — and is clearly being marketed as an alternative to overcrowded BART trains and Bay Bridge traffic — even though each boat looks to have a pretty limited capacity. Ferries leave Berkeley at 7:30 and 8:30 a.m. only on Fridays (for now), and then depart San Francisco each Friday evening at 5:30 and 6:30 p.m., with more days and times to be added according to demand. Each ride costs $8, and leaves from the K gate at Berkeley Marina, arriving at Pier 1.5 in SF. And a 50 percent cancellation fee is charged for any reservation cancelled within 12 hours or less of the departure time. (Reservations can be made here, but it appears walk-ons are allowed too.)

The Richmond service is a private shuttle that began in November and appears to operate Monday through Friday for $11 a ride, via prepaid packages only. That service also uses Pier 1.5, and arrives at Marina Bay in Richmond, with trips taking 35 minutes each way. Tickets are sold in packages of six for $66, or as monthly passes for $240, and no walk-ons are allowed.

"Redefine your commute," says the Tideline site, adding that each boat comes with wifi, beverage service, and flat screen TVs onboard. Also, they appear to be ready to launch a private commuter shuttle between Tiburon and SF as well, though that is still "pending."

At the time the company's Richmond service launch, Tideline Marine Group president Nathan Nayman discussed the venture with Richmond Confidential. “San Francisco Bay historically was all about boats," he said. "It was all about clipper ships, transportation, bringing goods and services into the bay area. With the advent of the car, bridges and BART, we lost our focus on the bay. [At Tideline] We believe [we need] to have a complement of all sorts of waterborne vessels throughout the Bay.”