On Aug. 8, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced approximately $32.8 million in project selections to improve the safety and reliability of passenger ferries and enhance mobility for ferry users across the U.S. A total of nine projects in nine states will receive funding from FTA’s Passenger Ferry Grant Program.

"These federal grants invest in marine infrastructure to improve mobility and enhance safety for passenger ferry services across our nation," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

FTA Passenger Ferry Grant Program funds projects to purchase, replace or rehabilitate passenger ferries, terminals and related infrastructure and equipment. (Learn more about the program in this brief video.)

"America’s waterways are a priceless asset, and the Passenger Ferry Grant Program partners with local communities to leverage those assets to improve mobility for millions of Americans," said FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams at an event in Portland, Maine, where she announced a $3.4 million ferry grant to the Casco Bay Island Transit District (Casco Bay Lines).

Casco Bay Lines provides year-round ferry service between the islands of Casco Bay and Portland transporting residents to services on the mainland and supporting the islands’ economies. The grant will help upgrade a ferry terminal built in 1988 that was designed to serve 500,000 passengers a year. Since then, passenger traffic has increased to 1.1 million passengers annually. The renovations will expand passenger queuing and boarding areas, improving safety and efficiency.

Casco Bay is a Passenger Vessel Association (PVA) member.

Among the other projects awarded to or that will benefit PVA ferry members are:

  • Rock Island County Metropolitan Mass Transit District (MetroLINK), serving the Quad Cities metropolitan area in Illinois and Iowa, will receive $1.2 million to construct a new ferry terminal at the Village of East Davenport that will enhance service for passengers.
  • The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection will receive $5.9 million to upgrade passenger ferry slips at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, N.J., to maintain safety and enhance service reliability for its passengers.
  • The Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District in California was awarded $5.9 million to acquire a new passenger ferry vessel that will enhance service reliability for its passengers.
  • In Florida, the St. Johns River Ferry, owned by the Jacksonville Transportation Authority and operated by HMS Global Maritime, will receive about $3.9 million to upgrade critical elements related to public safety and state of good repair for the ferry slips and the ferry terminal.
  • The Washington State Department of Transportation Ferries Division will receive $5.9 million to construct a pedestrian connector between the Seattle Multimodal Terminal and downtown Seattle.
  • In Massachusetts, the Woods Hole, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority will receive $2.5 million to construct a new terminal building to enhance service reliability for its passengers.
  • The New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority Metro-North Railroad will receive more than $2.7 million to design and construct a new floating dock to replace an older dock which has reached its useful life.


FTA received 20 proposals totaling approximately $99.3 million in funding requests from nine states. Project proposals were evaluated based on criteria outlined in the Notice of Funding Opportunity. The selected projects will receive $30 million in fiscal year 2019 funding and $2.8 million in prior year funding.

Federal public transportation law (49 USC § 5307(h)), as amended by the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, authorizes FTA’s competitive Passenger Ferry Grant Program through FY2020.

David Krapf has been editor of WorkBoat, the nation’s leading trade magazine for the inland and coastal waterways industry, since 1999. He is responsible for overseeing the editorial direction of the publication. Krapf has been in the publishing industry since 1987, beginning as a reporter and editor with daily and weekly newspapers in the Houston area. He also was the editor of a transportation industry daily in New Orleans before joining WorkBoat as a contributing editor in 1992. He has been covering the transportation industry since 1989, and has a degree in business administration from the State University of New York at Oswego, and also studied journalism at the University of Houston.