Ferry Programs in the Department of Transportation [Updated January 27, 2022]   [open pdf - 560KB]

From the Document: "Ferries provide transportation services in a wide variety of settings and for many purposes. The main types of ferry service in the United States are commuter passenger service in urban areas, and highway vehicle carriage in rural areas where a bridge is unavailable. Coastal and island regions, such as Alaska, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puget Sound, and New England, can be especially dependent on ferries for both passenger and freight transportation. There are also many ferries that provide service mainly for recreational purposes, including several in national parks. Overall, ferries play a minor role in the U.S. transportation system, providing about 1% of public transportation trips in 2019. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) supports ferry services through both highway and public transportation programs. Generally, federal funds are eligible for capital projects, including buying and refurbishing ferries, and building and rehabilitating ferry terminals and maintenance facilities. Ferries must be built domestically according to a law dating to 1886 (46 U.S.C. [United States Code]§55103). In certain circumstances, federal funds may be used for operating expenses. The programs discussed here are intended for permanent ferry operations. Temporary ferry operations may be eligible under other programs, such as DOT's highway and public transportation Emergency Relief programs."

Report Number:
CRS In Focus, IF12027
Public Domain
Retrieved From:
Congressional Research Service: https://crsreports.congress.gov/
Media Type:
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