USA's administration grants US$380M to decarbonize ferry transportation

   January 30, 2023 ,   Cruise Industry

The US Department of Transportation’s FTA (Federal Transit Administration) announced US$384.4 million in federal funding by the Biden-Harris administration for expanding/improving the nation’s ferry service in communities across the country, as well as accelerating the transition to zero-emission transportation. 

FTA is awarding a total of 23 grants across 11 states and the USVI/Virgin Islands. The grants will fund projects including the replacement of old vessels, expanding fleets, and building new terminals/docks. For the state of Alaska, the award means ~US$286 million of investment in the Alaska Marine Highway, serving remote locations throughout the state.

~US$100 million of the national grants go toward low-/no-emission ferries, helping decrease greenhouse gas emissions.  

In response to the Notice of Funding of Opportunity, the Federal Transit Administration received 47 eligible applications in 16 states and 1 territory, totaling ~US$602 million in requests.

The Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities, receiving 6 grants for ~US$286 million, will build passenger ferries in order to replace/modernize older ships and make critical dock upgrades in a number of communities.

The grants will improve the condition/quality of the Alaska Marine Highway System, which serves 35 communities and runs 3,500 miles, particularly for people in remote locations.

The Maine Department of Transportation is due to receive US$28 million through the Electric/Low-Emitting Ferry Pilot Program in order to build a hybrid-electric ship to replace a 35-year-old vessel.

The new hybrid-electric ship is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions/promote environmental sustainability for the ~600 residents of Islesboro island, a rural community in upper Penobscot Bay relying on passenger ferry service.

The MBTA (Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority) will receive US$6.6 million through the Passenger Ferry Grant Program in order to modernize the Hingham Ferry dock, improve safety/accessibility, and ensure it stays "in a state of good repair." MBTA will stabilize the dock, reconstruct walkways, upgrade lighting, safety/security systems and facilitate backup power, allowing for operational flexibility, an increase in ferry capacity, and resiliency.