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An alaska state ferry underway near Ketchikan, Alaska

An Alaska State ferry in Ketchikan, Alaska. Photo: FloridaStock/Shutterstock

Biden Administration Allocates $220 Million to Enhance Passenger Ferry Service Nationwide

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 1679
May 18, 2023

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) today announced the availability of $220 million from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to support and modernize passenger ferry service in both rural and urban communities throughout the United States.

With approximately three million ferry riders each month, these grants will play a significant role in improving transportation options across the nation. Notably, previous grants have successfully enhanced ferry service in various regions, including Alaska, Maine, Georgia, and California.

“For many Americans, ferries are the best way get to work, go to school, or reach a hospital, particularly in island communities and Alaska Native villages,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “Everyone ought to have access to affordable, reliable transportation options, and thanks to President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, we are taking an important step to improve ferry service across the country.”

The Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) encompasses two grant programs: the Passenger Ferry Program and the Ferry Service for Rural Communities Program. The Passenger Ferry Program focuses on capital projects involving the purchase, replacement, or modernization of passenger ferries, terminals, and related equipment. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2023, a total of $50.1 million is available, with $5 million specifically allocated for low- or zero-emission ferries and related facilities or equipment.

On the other hand, the Ferry Service for Rural Communities Program is a competitive grant initiative established by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. This program ensures essential ferry service in rural communities by providing funding for capital, planning, and operating assistance. In FY 2023, a substantial amount of $170 million is available for this purpose.

FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez shed light on the critical role passenger ferries play in offering cost-effective travel options across the United States, but also acknowledged the existing backlog of state-of-the-art repair and safety investments for these services.

“This funding will modernize and expand transit systems, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and advance equity by making transit available to more people, while maintaining and creating good-paying jobs,” Fernandez said.

Earlier this year, the FTA announced the selection of projects for the Ferry Grant Programs, totaling $384.4 million in funding. Nearly $100 million of this amount was dedicated to the Electric or Low-Emitting Ferry Pilot Program, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector.

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