Federal Funding For Ferries Is Available
There is good news from Washington concerning federal support for transportation. The United States Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration announced a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) on July 8th. This is an opportunity to apply for $294.5 million in competitive grant funding. It is now available for the Ferry Grant Programs.
FTA’s Ferry Programs, which includes three new competitive programs this year, supports transit agencies wanting to modernize and improve passenger ferry service, establish new service, transition to climate-friendly technologies and expand ferry services to rural areas. There is $209 million available under the Ferry Service for Rural Communities Program that provides funding to states to ensure basic essential ferry service is provided to rural areas; $49 million is available under the Electric or Low-Emitting Ferry Pilot Program for electric or low-emitting ferries and associated infrastructure that reduce greenhouse gas emissions by using alternative fuels or on-board energy storage systems; and $36.5 million that provide funding to support existing ferry service, establish new ferry service, repair and modernize ferry boats, terminals, related facilities and equipment in urbanized areas, with $3.25 million set aside to support low or zero-emission ferries. The application period closes on September 6, 2022.
FTA recipients such as New Jersey Transit can also choose to spend whatever they receive under their share of Fiscal Year Section 5307 Urbanized Area; $6,408 billion or Section 5337 State of Good Repair High Intensity Fixed Guideway $399 billion for ferry projects. The Federal Highway Administration has funding under several programs including Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ), Surface Transportation Program (STP) and others which can be flexed or transferred to the FTA can also finance capital ferry projects.
Federal support for all transit systems, has been consistent and grown over time. When a crisis occurred, be it 9/11 in 2001, Hurricane Sandy in 2012 or COVID-19 in 2021, Washington was there for us. Additional millions in federal assistance above and beyond yearly formula allocations were provided. The same held true In 2009, with passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).
Ridership on any transit service generates yearly federal transportation capital assistance via the annual FTA Section 15 annual reporting process.
Enjoy the fresh air and breeze that only waterborne transportation can provide. Riding a ferry can be less stressful than traveling by bus or commuter rail.
Thousands of current ferry riders are hoping NJ Transit and the Port Authority submit grant applications to obtain funding under these FTA ferry programs.
(Larry Penner is a transportation advocate, historian and writer who previously worked for the Federal Transit Administration Region 2 New York Office)