The San Francisco Bay Ferry fleet has just received the first of seven shiny new ferry boats, called Hydrus, which is getting a Champagne christening Tuesday in advance of its first passenger trips in April. The high-speed catamaran is on display currently at Pier 9, as ABC 7 shows us, and it has a capacity for 445 passengers — or, as The Point blog recently said, 400 passengers and 50 bicycles.

According to the Examiner
, the SF Bay Ferry fleet will have 13 boats total as of April, and with older boats being put out of service, and the seven new ones coming online, they will have a total of 16 operating in three years.

The first trips by the Hydrus will be used to add capacity to the over-congested Vallejo route, and Point Richmond residents are looking forward to getting their own route in early 2018.

The Water Emergency Transportation Authority, which runs SF Bay Ferry, is looking to greatly expand ferry service over the next two decades to alleviate traffic on the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges, and congestion on BART. The WETA is "investing $465 million in capital expenditures, $175 million of which is toward new vessel construction" according to the Ex, and each of these boats costs around $15 million. A September press release from SF Bay Ferry announced a $62.1 million contract awarded to Dakota Creek Industries, Inc. for three new ferry boats, of which this Hydrus is the first.

As the East Bay Times reports, ridership on SF Bay Ferries has increased 74 percent over the last five years, to over 2.7 million passengers annually. They currently only operate out of seven terminals servicing routes to Mare Island, Vallejo, Alameda, Oakland, and Harbor Bay, but they're expecting to grow that 12 routes and 16 terminals.

Using the new high-speed Hydrus, the commute from SF to Alameda is now expected to be just 19 minutes, and even speedier boats are on the way.

In the next four years, in addition to the new Richmond terminal, new terminals will be added in Alameda and on Treasure Island as well.

Related: Tideline, The Chariot Of Ferries, Launches Commuter Service Between SF, Berkeley, and Richmond