Major Ferry Legislation Announced
Bill would make significant
investments in ferry system nationwide
April 29, 2009
Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski
(R-AK), and U.S. Congressman Rick Larsen (D-WA2) announced the
introduction of the U.S. Ferry Systems Investment Act of 2009
at a press conference in the Capitol. This bill would dramatically
increase federal support for the country's ferry system, and
direct millions of dollars to ferry systems in Washington state.
"The U.S. Ferry Systems Investment Act of 2009 makes make
a strong investment in our nation's ferry systems, which provide
a critical lifeline for millions of commuters across the country,"
said Senator Patty Murray. "This bill would also give a
boost to the economy by creating jobs directly, as well as by
increasing productivity and making investments in long term economic
growth. We understand the importance of ferries in Washington
state, and I am proud to stand here with my colleagues as we
work to strengthen this critical link in our nation's transportation
The U.S. Ferry Systems Investment Act of 2009 would invest $200
million a year in funding for ferry systems across the country
starting in Fiscal Year 2010, and running through Fiscal Year
"Ferry transportation is vital to the State of Alaska,"
said Senator Lisa Murkowski. "The Alaska Marine Highway
system serves 30 communities along routes that total more than
3,000 miles. Ferries provide vital transportation for residents
and visitors to many of Alaska's remote coastal communities.
This bill will increase funding for our nation's public ferry
systems at a time when many of our vessels are aged and in need
of replacement. Alaska has recently initiated a new ferry vessel
replacement program. Thus, the timing on providing increased
federal funding for ferry systems is particularly important,
and I look forward to supporting this legislation."
"In Washington state and in many parts of the country, ferries
connect communities to keep our economy moving," said Representative
Rick Larsen. "Washington State Ferries is the largest ferry
system in the country and carries over 25 million riders annually.
For thousands of my constituents, ferries offer the only practical
way to get to work and return home. The U.S. Ferry Investment
Act will strengthen our federal commitment to ferries to create
jobs, invest in public safety and help build a foundation for
long-term economic growth."
The funding would be divided into two parts. Half of the money
($100 million a year) would be distributed according to a formula
that takes into account straightforward factors such as how many
passengers use the ferry system each year, how many vehicles
are carried, and how many total miles the routes contain. The
other half ($100 million a year) would be distributed at the
discretion of the Secretary of Transportation using a competitive
"The federal government rightfully invests in roads, bridges
and rail," said David Moseley, Director of Washington State
Ferries. "I'm glad that Senator Murray and Representative
Larsen are pushing this critical investment in our ferries, because
they are our maritime highways and our bridges across the water.
It's time they were treated equally in transportation funding."
In addition to the funding changes, the bill also includes the
following additional ways to strengthen ferry systems across
- Makes ferry systems eligible
to compete for funding under the Clean Fuels Grant Program.
- Establishes a Ferry Joint
Program Office within U.S. DOT to coordinate federal programs
(DOT, DHS, etc.) affecting ferry and ferry facility construction,
maintenance, operations and security, and to promote ferry transportation
as a component of the U.S. transportation system.
- Requires U.S. DOT to ensure
the National Ferry Database is consistent with the database maintained
by the Federal Transit Administration.
- Authorizing funding to establish
a National Ferry Transportation Institute at a college or university.
The institute is directed to conduct research, training, and
develop models and recommendations to improve the operation and
safety of ferry systems in the U.S.
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