New grants aim to modernize, electrify ferry service

(WASHINGTON) – The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is making available nearly $300 million through three competitive grant programs that boost access to rural ferry service, bolster existing urban service, and lower emissions by speeding adoption of zero-emission ferry technologies.

“Ferry service can be as important to everyday life as a highway or railway for many people across the country, whether in a small Alaskan community or a large metropolitan area,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “Thanks to the … Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, this historic funding will bring ferry service to more Americans and make it safer and cleaner through modern, electric ferries.”

NYC Ferry’s Atlantic Compass. Billie Grace Ward photo

The three grant programs, available through a combined notice of funding opportunity (NOFO), include:

• FTA’s Ferry Service for Rural Communities Program, a new program that provides competitive funding to states to ensure basic essential ferry service is provided to rural areas. For fiscal year 2022, $209 million is available.
• FTA’s Electric or Low-Emitting Ferry Pilot Program, a new program that provides competitive funding for electric or low-emitting ferries and associated infrastructure that reduce greenhouse gas emissions by using alternative fuels or onboard energy storage systems. For fiscal year 2022, $49 million is available.
• FTA’s Passenger Ferry Grant Program, which funds capital projects that support existing passenger ferry service, establish new ferry service, and repair and modernize ferry boats, terminals and related facilities and equipment in urbanized areas. For fiscal year 2022, $36.5 million is available and of that, $3.25 million is set aside to support low or zero-emission ferries.

The investment electrifying ferries is just one component of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s major investment in moving to electric transportation infrastructure – including $5 billion for clean school buses, $5 billion for low- or no-emission transit buses, and $7.5 billion to support the build-out of a national network of electric vehicle chargers.

“This record amount of funding … will help provide more reliable and efficient travel for those who commute by ferry,” said FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez. “(This) announcement will help improve people’s daily lives, especially in rural communities where ferry service has been hard to come by.”

Instructions for applying and eligibility information can be found here. Complete proposals must be submitted electronically through the “Apply” function by Sept. 6.

– Federal Transit Administration

By Rich Miller