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US announces grants for ferry systems to accelerate transition to zero emission transportation

30 Jan 2023

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) on Thursday (26 January) announced USD 384.4 million in federal funding from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for expanding and improving the nation’s ferry service in communities across the country, as well as accelerate the transition to zero emission transportation. 

This funding will benefit millions of Americans – from Alaska to Michigan to Maryland – who depend on coastal waters, rivers, bays, and other bodies of water to connect to their communities.

In total, FTA is awarding 23 grants across 11 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Grants will fund projects including replacement of old vessels, expand fleets, and build new terminals and docks. For the state of Alaska, the award means nearly USD 286 million of investment in the Alaska Marine Highway, which serves remote locations throughout the state. Nearly USD100 million of the national grants will go toward low- and no-emission ferries, helping decrease greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector. See the full list of grants here.

“With these grants, we are improving and expanding ferry service in the communities that rely on waterways the most—often in more rural, remote regions—connecting people to jobs, services, and city centers while cutting climate pollution,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.    

The funding, made available through three FTA competitive grant programs, will boost ferry service in rural areas, modernize urban ferry systems, and lower emissions by speeding adoption of 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 $252.4 million to eight projects in four states.
  • FTA’s Electric or Low-Emitting Ferry Pilot Program provides competitive funding for electric or low-emitting ferries and charging equipment that reduce greenhouse gas emissions by using alternative fuels or on-board energy storage systems. FTA is awarding $97.6 million to seven projects in seven states.
  • FTA’s Passenger Ferry Grant Program supports capital projects to establish new ferry service, and repair and modernize ferry vessels, terminals, and facilities and equipment in urbanized areas. FTA is awarding $34.4 million to eight projects in six states and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“Today’s announcement represents a record amount of support for transit ferries in our country,” said FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez. “And thanks to the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, for the first time ever, we are able to provide competitive grant funds for passenger ferry service in rural areas and help ferry operators reduce their climate impact.”

Note: The full FTA statement with links to the programs mentioned above can be found here.


Photo credit: Julius Jansson on Unsplash
Published: 30 January, 2022

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