US federal funding earmarked for improving ferry services in 11 states and Virgin Islands

US federal funding earmarked for improving ferry services in 11 states and Virgin Islands

Photo: Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities

The US Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has confirmed that US$384.4 million in federal funding will be made available under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for expanding and improving the nation’s ferry service in communities across the country, as well as accelerate the transition to lower-emission transportation.

The FTA will be awarding 23 grants across 11 states and the US Virgin Islands. The grants will fund projects including replacement of old vessels, expansion of fleets, and construction of new terminals and docks.

Nearly US$100 million of the national grants will go toward low-emission ferries.

The funding, made available through three FTA competitive grant programs, will boost ferry service in rural areas, modernise urban ferry systems, and lower emissions by accelerating adoption of zero-emission technology.

  • The Ferry Service for Rural Communities Program provides competitive funding to states for ferry service in rural areas. FTA is awarding US$252.4 million to eight projects in four states.
  • The Electric or Low-Emitting Ferry Pilot Program provides competitive funding for electric or low-emitting ferries and charging equipment that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by using alternative fuels or on-board energy storage systems. FTA is awarding US$97.6 million to seven projects in seven states.
  • The Passenger Ferry Grant Program supports capital projects to establish new ferry service, and repair and modernise ferry vessels, terminals, and facilities and equipment in urbanised areas. FTA is awarding US$34.4 million to eight projects in six states and the US Virgin Islands.

Some selected ferry projects include the following:

  • The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, which is receiving six grants for nearly US$286 million, will build passenger ferries to replace or modernise older vessels and make critical dock upgrades in several communities. The grants will improve the condition and quality of the Alaska Marine Highway System, which serves 35 communities, particularly for people in remote locations with high transportation costs.
  • The Maine Department of Transportation will receive US$28 million through the Electric or Low-Emitting Ferry Pilot Program to build a hybrid-electric vessel to replace a 35-year-old vessel that has exceeded its useful life. The new hybrid-electric vessel will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote environmental sustainability for the roughly 600 residents of the island of Islesboro, a rural community in upper Penobscot Bay that relies on passenger ferry service.
  • The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) will receive US$6.6 million through the Passenger Ferry Grant Program to modernise the Hingham Ferry dock to improve safety and accessibility and ensure it stays in a state of good repair. MBTA will stabilise the ferry dock, reconstruct walkways, upgrade lighting, safety and security systems and facilitate back-up power, allowing for an increase in ferry capacity, operational flexibility, and resiliency.

Projects were selected for funding based on criteria described in the Notice of Funding of Opportunity. In response to the Notice of Funding of Opportunity, FTA received 47 eligible applications in 16 states and one territory, totaling nearly US$602 million in requests.

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