The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is awarding $220.2 million in grant funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) to modernize the nation's ferry systems. The program focuses in part on expanding ferry service in rural communities, helping communities acquire modern ferry boats (including electric boats that reduce carbon pollution) and upgrading shore infrastructure to support high-quality, low-emission ferry service.
"For many communities around the U.S., ferries are an important way to access jobs, medical care and vital goods and services—like in communities I visited this summer in Alaska, Wisconsin and Washington state," said U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. "With these grants, from President Biden's Investing in America agenda, we will be able to connect more people to the opportunities and resources they need to thrive even when their main route is a waterway rather than a road."
In total, FTA is awarding 13 grants in eight states and the territory of American Samoa. Federal funding will support projects such as replacing old vessels, expanding fleets and building new terminals and docks.
"Today's announcement represents our continued record support under the Biden-Harris Administration for passenger ferry service," said FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez. "The grants help transit agencies make investments to increase reliability, improve connections to other modes of transportation and bring older ferry systems into a state of good repair."
The funding, made available through two FTA competitive grant programs, the Ferry Service for Rural Communities Program and the Passenger Ferry Grant Program, will boost ferry service in rural areas, modernize urban ferry systems and lower emissions by speeding up the adoption of low- and zero-emission technology.
FTA's Ferry Service for Rural Communities Program provides competitive funding to states for ferry service in rural areas. FTA is awarding approximately $170 million to six projects in four states and the territory of American Samoa. FTA's Passenger Ferry Grant Program supports capital projects to establish new ferry service and repair and modernize ferry vessels, terminals and facilities in urban areas. FTA is awarding $50.1 million to seven projects in four states.
The $220.2 million total in grant funding is the second ferry grant package funded by the IIJA, which has now invested more than $604 million to expand and improve the nation's ferry service, as well as accelerate the transition to zero-emission transportation technology. During the next three years, record funding for American transit investment secured under President Biden’s leadership will provide $825 million more in funds for ferry service and infrastructure.
Selected fiscal year 2023 ferry projects include:
- The American Samoa Department of Public Works will receive $21.2 million to acquire two low-emission vessels that will operate from Tutuila to the islands of Manu'a. This project will expand service, enhance reliability and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
- The San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Agency will receive $15.9 million to retrofit two of their existing ferry floats in the cities of Alameda and San Francisco by installing battery energy storage systems to improve reliability and air quality.
- The State of Alaska will receive nearly $131.3 million to invest in the Alaska Marine Highway that serves remote locations throughout the state, including nearly $92.8 million to the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities to build a new ferry to replace a nearly 60-year-old vessel. The new ferry will feature a diesel-electric propulsion system and will serve rural southwest Alaska with more reliable service and fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
- The New York City Department of Transportation will receive nearly $7.5 million to build shoreside terminal infrastructure to enable rapid charging for vessels serving Governors Island, which is only accessible by ferry service. The new charging system will reduce emissions, decrease maintenance costs and improve reliability for riders.
Projects were selected for funding based on criteria in the Notice of Funding of Opportunity. FTA received 28 eligible project proposals in 12 states and the territory of American Samoa, totaling nearly $418 million in requests.