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An alaska state ferry underway near Ketchikan, Alaska

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

Biden Administration Announces $220 Million in Grants to Modernize Ferry Systems

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 2711
November 30, 2023

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has announced grants totaling $220.2 million to modernize the nation’s ferry systems.

These grants, provided through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, aim to expand ferry service in rural communities, facilitate the acquisition of modern ferry boats (including electric boats that reduce carbon pollution), and upgrade shore infrastructure to support high-quality, low-emission ferry service.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg emphasized the significance of ferries in enabling communities to access jobs, medical care, and essential goods and services.

“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 a road,” said Buttigieg.

A total of 13 grants will be awarded in eight states and the territory of American Samoa. The federal funding will support various projects, including the replacement of old vessels, fleet expansion, and the construction of new terminals and docks.

FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez highlighted the Biden-Harris Administration’s continuous support for passenger ferry service. The grants aim to enhance reliability, improve connectivity with other transportation modes, and bring older ferry systems up to a state of good repair.

The funding is available through two FTA competitive grant programs. The Ferry Service for Rural Communities Program will allocate approximately $170 million to six projects in four states and American Samoa, focusing on enhancing ferry service in rural areas. The Passenger Ferry Grant Program will provide $50.1 million to support seven projects in four states, with a focus on establishing new ferry service and modernizing existing ferry vessels, terminals, and facilities in urban areas.

This investment marks the second ferry grant package funded by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, bringing the total investment in ferry service and infrastructure to over $604 million. These grants not only aim to expand and improve the nation’s ferry service but also accelerate the adoption of low- and zero-emission transportation technology. Over the next three years, President Biden will secure record funding of $825 million for ferry service and infrastructure, further bolstering American transit investment.

Selected fiscal year 2023 ferry projects include acquiring low-emission vessels in American Samoa, retrofitting ferry floats in San Francisco Bay Area with battery energy storage systems, investing in the Alaska Marine Highway with a new ferry featuring a diesel-electric propulsion system, and building shoreside terminal infrastructure in New York City for rapid charging of ferry vessels.

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