Ferries

SIC 4482

Companies in this industry

Industry report:

This category includes establishments primarily engaged in operating ferries for the transportation of passengers or vehicles. Establishments primarily engaged in providing lighterage services are classified in SIC 4499: Water Transportation Services, Not Elsewhere Classified.

Industry Snapshot

In the late 2000s, there were 654 ferries in operation in the United States, carrying more than 97 million passengers yearly. Most are small operations, but 62 were large ferries that could transport up to 500 vehicles plus passengers or 2,000 passengers. By ridership numbers, New York and Washington State operated the busiest ferry systems. In the first half of the 2000s, there were nearly 200 total operators that provided ferry service on 485 nonstop ferry route segments, comprising 350 ferry routes and serving 575 ferry terminal locations. Over 10 percent of ferries were high speed vessels, capable of going 25 knots or faster. In 2009, an estimated 168 establishments provided ferry service for passengers, earning revenues totaling $280.9 million and employing 5,205 workers.

After falling to historic lows in the 1970s, U.S. ferry services began enjoying a revival in popularity as commuters sought alternatives to overcrowded highways. On July 1, 2004, new security measures were put in place under the Maritime Transportation Security Act, which sought to step up safety measures to guard against terrorist attacks on U.S. ferries. Despite security concerns, several large ferry operators were introducing new ferries, including expanded fast ferry services.

Organization and Structure

Ferries in the United States run the gamut from small floating parking lots capable of carrying a few dozen cars a short distance to huge ferryliners, such as those servicing the Alaska Marine Highway, that are capable of carrying hundreds of automobiles. Some even provide passengers with conveniences ranging from lounges and cafeterias to overnight accommodations on trips that could last up to a week. Some old-fashioned rope or steam-operated paddle-wheel ferries still run as tourist attractions and as a living monument to the long history of ferries in the United States.

Multi-route ferry systems, such as the Alaskan system or the Washington State Ferry System, are often operated by state departments of transportation. However, many commuter routes in urban areas such as New York and San Francisco are privately operated. Highway river crossings are characterized by a mix of government and privately run services. Federal law requires that all passenger ferries be inspected by the U.S. Coast Guard. There was no national organization of ferry operators, although many of them belonged to the American Waterways Operators.

Background and Development

Ferries are commonly defined as boats that carry passengers or vehicles across narrow bodies of water in return for payment. They have a long history. Even Charon, ferryman for the dead in ancient Greek mythology, demanded payment before transporting souls across the river Styx into Hades, prompting Greeks to place coins in the mouths of the dead before burying them.

The earliest accounts of European exploration in North America record instances of Native Americans charging to carry passengers across rivers in birch bark canoes. There are, in fact, written accounts of wagons being loaded into two canoes paddled side-by-side. Many early government treaties conferred the right of ferriage to the Native Americans, but the Native Americans were shunted aside as soon as a ferry route became profitable, as John Perry points out in American Ferryboats.

As late as 1828, ten years after Illinois became a state, the Winnebagos controlled the important commercial ferry route across the Rock River at modern day Dixon. When the Winnebago monopoly was challenged in 1827, the native Americans destroyed both the offending ferryboat and ferry house. Eventually, ferriage rights were negotiated as part of the Treaty of Green Bay. French trapper Joe Ogee established the first non-Native American ferry in 1829. In 1832, Ogee sold the ferry to John Dixon, and the community became known as Dixon's Ferry.

Piecing together a history of the early American ferryboat industry is difficult because few official records were kept. What is known was usually gleaned from the diaries of travelers, or as was often the case, when squabbles over who had the legal right to provide ferriage ended up in court. However, by the 1640s, there were several established ferry routes in the American colonies. In 1630, the Massachusetts Bay Colony issued a request for someone to begin ferry service between Boston and Charlestown. The first regular ferry service between New Amsterdam on Manhattan Island and Brooklyn on Long Island is known to have been in operation by 1643, and probably for several years before that.

In 1654, New Amsterdam also passed what may have been the first ferry ordinance in the New World. The ordinance declared that no one could provide ferriage without a license, that ferry service must adhere to a regular schedule, and that ferry operators must provide shelters for passengers on both shores. Despite the ordinance, however, ferry service between Manhattan and Brooklyn was a contentious free-for-all for more than 100 years as the two communities argued over which had the right to carry passengers across the East River. The dispute often turned ugly, as when Brooklyn radicals burned the ferry house belonging to the officially chartered and licensed New York Corporation. Brooklyn finally won the legal right to provide its own ferry service in 1775. Although the colony of New York appealed to the Court of King George III, the appeal was never heard because the American colonies declared their independence in 1776.

Current-Driven Ferries.
Initially, Native American canoes were replaced on ferry routes by flat-bottomed boats that were either rowed, poled, or paddled across the stream or river. On open water, ferryboats were often fitted with sails. The first technological improvement was simply to string a rope across the river. The rope allowed the ferry to be pulled across. But more importantly, it acted as a restraint so that the ferry would end up at the right point on the opposite shore instead of being pushed downstream by the current. This made it feasible to build permanent docks, rather than allowing the ferries to run aground along the riverbank somewhere close to their destination. In some places, horses or windlasses were used to pull the ferries.

The use of ropes led to the development of "current ferries." Ferry operators discovered they could use water power to drive the boats by turning them at a slight angle to the river current, much like tacking in a sailboat, except the rope also kept the ferry from moving downstream. The return trip could be made by reversing the angle of the ferry. The current ferry established the pattern of double-ended ferryboats, which removed the need to turn the boat around. Eventually, wire cables replaced ropes, but current ferries remained the most common short-haul ferries in the United States into the nineteenth century. Another innovation was the pendulum ferry. Fairly popular in Europe, although rare in the United States, pendulum ferries took advantage of a mid-river island to anchor a rope or cable strung along a line of floating platforms. Such ferries would then swing across the river at the end of the rope pendulums.

Team Boats.
Current ferries were fine for narrow rivers that could be spanned by ropes or cables, but broad rivers or coastal bays required a different source of power. The "team boat," which appeared in America in the early nineteenth century, used mules or horses carried aboard the ferry to power a capstan or treadmill that drove a paddle wheel. The Romans apparently used oxen in a similar manner to propel war boats, but team boats were considered an ingenious new invention by early Americans. The first team boat in the United States is believed to have been put in service in 1814 on a run between Brooklyn and Manhattan. The Long Island Star reported that the boat took 8 to 18 minutes to cross the East River and carried an average of 200 passengers, plus horses and vehicles. The team boat was the principal type of ferry for open water for almost two decades, until the steamboat replaced it. However, many team boats operated well into the twentieth century.

Steam Ferries.
Steamboats, including ferries, were operating in the United States as early as 1786. However, credit for creating the first practical, commercial steamboat is usually given to Robert Fulton in 1807. Fulton was a successful jeweler and painter of miniatures before he turned his attention to science and engineering in the late eighteenth century. He invented a number of labor saving machines and designed several experimental submarines between 1797 and 1806. The following year, Fulton directed the construction of a steamboat originally known as the North River Steamboat and later renamed the Clermont. For many years, the Clermont carried passengers and cargo up and down the Hudson River, but it was never used as a ferry.

In 1808, Fulton formed New York and Brooklyn Ferry Associates and established a watershed business relationship with Robert R. Livingston, former United States Ambassador to France who had signed the Declaration of Independence and negotiated the Louisiana Purchase. Several years before, around 1790, the governments of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York each granted exclusive license to American inventor John Fitch to operate steam-driven vessels on the waters bordering their states. Fitch later transferred the license to operate in New York waters to Livingston, a former business partner who was also presiding judge of the New York court of chancery when the monopoly was granted. Since obtaining the franchise, Livingston had also received permission to double ferry tolls once steam ferries were put in operation.

When Livingston joined up with Fulton, team boat ferry operators were told they should be prepared to go out of business. The New York Legislature even agreed to extend Livingston's monopoly an additional five years for every steamboat that he and Fulton put in service. However, before they were able to launch their first steam ferry, another entrepreneur beat them to it.

John Stevens, a former business associate of both Fitch and Livingston, had launched his first steam ferry in 1809. He wanted to run between Hoboken, New Jersey, and New York, but because of Livingston's monopoly, he decided to operate between Philadelphia and Trenton, New Jersey, across the Delaware River. In 1810, Stevens obtained a ferry license from New York City, in conflict with the state license. Stevens tried to reach an amicable agreement with Fulton and Livingston, but when negotiations failed, Stevens went ahead and launched the Juliana, the first steam ferry in New York waters, in 1811. The Juliana, however, challenged the Fulton-Livingston monopoly for only one season. Soon after the ferry was launched, the New York Legislature enacted a law that allowed the seizure of any steamboat not authorized under the state monopoly. The next summer, the Juliana was literally chased out of New York waters. Stevens returned to using team boats on his Hoboken to New York run.

Fulton and Livingston launched their first steam ferry, the Nassau, in 1814. It ran between Manhattan and Brooklyn. The Long Island Star reported of the Nassau, "The captain, lordly as old Neptune, drives his splendid car regardless of wind or tide, and is able to tell with certainty the hour of his return."

Gibbons v. Ogden.
The New York seizure law, and a similar law passed by New Jersey in retaliation, seriously retarded development of the ferry industry and perpetuated the use of team boats. The laws also led to the first case ever decided by the U.S. Supreme Court under Article I, Section Eight of the U.S. Constitution, known as the commerce clause.

In 1824, the Court agreed to hear the now-famous case of Thomas Gibbons v. Aaron Ogden. The ferry, heavily loaded with 27 boxcars, sank in Lake Michigan, about seven miles from Milwaukee, during a fierce storm in 1929. Fifty-nine crew and passengers died.

Between 1920 and the early 1960s, ferries on Lake Michigan were also an important conveyance for passengers heading to vacation resorts in Michigan and Wisconsin. However, interstate highways built in the 1960s cut into this passenger service. When the railroads were deregulated in the late 1970s, many of the ferry routes were abandoned. The last railroad to operate ferry service on the Great Lakes was the Chesapeake and Ohio, then known as the Chessie System. In 1983, the railroad's ferry service between Ludington, Michigan, and Kewaunee, Wisconsin, was purchased by the private Michigan-Wisconsin Transportation Company.

The Michigan-Wisconsin Transportation Company went out of business in 1990, temporarily ending more than 140 years of continuous ferry service on the Great Lakes. In 1991, the Badger, the last Great Lakes car ferry, was purchased by a former chief engineer for the Pere Marquette Railway. Lake Michigan Carferry Services, Inc., began operation in 1992, between Manitowoc, Wisconsin, and Ludington. The four-hour trip was at least six hours faster than driving by car around the southern end of the Lake and through Chicago.

Puget Sound Navigation Company.
Small steamboats, known as the Mosquito Fleet, were operating on Puget Sound, in what is now the state of Washington, as early as 1836. The first ferryboat was the City of Seattle, launched on New Year's Eve in 1888. It operated between Seattle and West Seattle for more than 25 years. By the early 1900s, there were at least 70 ferryboats crisscrossing Puget Sound on 70 different routes.

Puget Sound Navigation Company, a subsidiary of the Alaskan Steam Ship Company, began operating ferryboats in 1898. Also known as the Black Ball Line because of its flag, Puget Sound Navigation became the largest licensed ferry operator in the United States in the 1930s with a fleet of more than 30 boats, many of them purchased from San Francisco ferry operators after the Golden Gate Bridge opened in 1937. Puget Sound Navigation controlled most major ferry routes on Puget Sound as a state-regulated monopoly from 1935 until 1951 when it became part of the Washington State Ferry System. It was also responsible for all passenger vessels operating on Puget Sound being called ferryboats. In the early 1900s, only steamboats operating on the shortest routes were commonly called ferries. But in 1909, Canada passed a law limiting the number of passengers that ocean steamships could carry based on gross tonnage. The law was to benefit the Canadian Pacific Railway, which operated steamships between Seattle and Vancouver, in the province of British Columbia. Canadian Pacific's luxury steamships were larger but carried fewer passengers than the vessels operated by Puget Sound Navigation. However, Charles Peabody, chairman of Puget Sound Navigation, declared publicly that his vessels were ferryboats, not ocean steamships. Puget Sound Navigation continued carrying boatloads of passengers between Seattle and Vancouver, and the Canadian government never challenged the definition. Passenger boats on Puget Sound have been considered ferryboats ever since.

Puget Sound Navigation is also known for operating the Kalakala. Originally built as a passenger ship in San Francisco and converted to carry automobiles on Puget Sound in 1935, the futuristic-looking Kalakala was the world's first streamlined ship. It could carry 110 cars and 2,000 passengers, and was probably the most photographed ferry in the world. More than six million passengers rode the Kalakala between 1935 and 1941. It was in service on Puget Sound for 32 years.

In the late 1940s, a series of labor strikes and declining ridership forced Puget Sound Navigation to seek a 30 percent rate increase from the State of Washington. The state refused, and Alex Peabody, who had succeeded his father as president, threatened to suspend service, which he did on February 29, 1948. Peabody and Washington State reached an agreement and service was restored a few weeks later. However, Washington state also began to explore the possibility of buying Puget Sound Navigation and operating the ferry service as a public transportation system. Peabody resisted at first, but in 1951, his financial backers forced him to sell, leading to the creation of the Washington State Ferry System.

Ferries began making a comeback in the 1980s as traffic congestion, air pollution, and urban stress became critical problems. In New York, five private ferry operators began service on nine routes between 1986 and 1992. In 1992, New York City offered free use of terminal facilities for ferry operators who agreed to undertake routes specified by the city. Other cities to experience a renaissance in ferry service included Boston, Detroit, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Ferry service across San Francisco Bay resumed in 1989 when an earthquake damaged the Bay Bridge. The ferry was so popular that a rival ferry began service in 1990. Both ferry systems planned to add routes, and city transit officials expected six to eight percent of all San Francisco Bay area commuters to be riding ferries by 2000. Many of these new ferries were high-speed, high technology catamarans.

In early 1999, Fast Ferry magazine reported that there were approximately 1,250 fast ferries operating in the world. Traveling 25 to 35 knots, they are capable of carrying at least 50 passengers, or a combination of freight and passengers, making them ideal alternate transportation in congested areas near waterways. Some of the new market areas included service from Boston to Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, and a $1 billion Water Transit System planned for San Francisco's Bay Area. Smog-sensitive Californians were pleased to learn that the proposed system, covering 440 miles of water routes, would produce only a fraction of the amount of non-methane hydrocarbons as would vehicular traffic moving the same number of persons.

The Great Lakes ferry system had 20 ferry services going into the 1998 season, serving both upper and lower Michigan. For fiscal year 1997, Great Lakes ferries carried 722,420 passengers and 448,221 vehicles and completed 64,860 ferry crossings.

One of the most successful ferry shuttle services in the country was operated by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). Ridership doubled between 1997 and 1999. Its biggest passenger commuter ferry service carried 380,000 passengers a year in the Boston Harbor area. Another service from Lovejoy Wharf to the World Trade Center, with a stop at the new Federal Courthouse, was carrying 2,240 one-way passengers per month by mid-1999.

The National Ferry Database reported that there were 224 ferry operators operating 677 ferry vessels in the United States as of 2000. They provided 487 nonstop ferry route segments, comprising 352 ferry routes with service at 578 ferry terminal locations.

Security in most sectors of the travel and recreation industry tightened as a result of the attacks of September 11, 2001, and ferries proved no different. The Coast Guard announced in late 2002 that it planned to increase safety measures on high-capacity passenger ferries. Passengers would be screened and vehicles inspected periodically based on threat level. Under normal conditions, up to five percent of passengers would be searched, whereas during extreme conditions all passengers and vehicles could be searched. Costs for the new security measures were estimated at $20 million.

Another result of the September 11 attacks was the loss of New York City's Port Authority Trans-Hudson train service. To offset this loss, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta provided $55 million to Metropolitan New York City for ferry-related projects in 2003. The funding would expand interstate ferry services. The same year, Perth Amboy, New Jersey, began ferry service to New York Harbor. The privately-owned ferry operated out of a location near the New Jersey Transit commuter rail service. The New Jersey Transit agreed to spend $30 million in federal and state funds to build a three-story ferry terminal in Weehawken, leased to waterfront entrepreneur Arthur Imperatore. Imperatore owned NY Waterway ferries, which transported some 16,000 people across the Hudson River from docks located in Jersey City, Weehawken, and Hoboken. The new terminal would double the current 5,500 passengers out of Weehawken each day and represented the largest investment in ferries by the state.

Other new services included the Fred Olsen Express, which launched daily ferry service between the Port of Miami and Freeport, Grand Bahama, in 2001. The 100-mile, three-hour route can carry 650 passengers. Fred Olsen Express is owned by two Norwegian corporations of shipping mogul Fred Olsen. The ferry would carry tourists as well as cargo. Round-trip fares run approximately $115, compared to about $182 for the lowest airfare available. Some in the industry were skeptical, noting that several others who attempted this route in the past have not been successful. However, fast ferries have become more popular in recent years as an alternative to flying and crowded highways.

In the mid-2000s, security continued to remain on the top of the agenda for operators of large ferries. After terrorists used eight pounds of TNT hidden inside a television to sink a 1,050-passenger ferry in the Philippines in February 2004, killing 115 people, the U.S. Coast Guard undertook a study of possible terrorist attacks on U.S. ferries. "In terms of the probability of something happening, the likelihood of it succeeding and the consequences of it occurring, ferries come out at the very high end," Joseph J. Myers, a Coast Guard risk analyst told the New York Times in March 2005.

Beginning in July 2004, large ferries were required to provide increased security, but each ferry system was left to decide the most appropriate measures. For example, Washington State Ferries began using bomb-sniffing dogs that patrolled the entrance to the ferries, whereas the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry depended on foot patrols of security personnel. In Cape May, New Jersey, an X-ray device known as the Z Backscatter was being tested. The $750,000 machine creates photolike images that reveal any explosive materials within a vehicle. Many questions remained regarding the level at which security measures are adequate to deter an attack, particularly how large a passenger base must be screened to be effective. In 2005, only a very small percentage of screening was required.

Large ferries are particularly attractive targets because they hold a lot of people, run on a schedule, often cross frigid waters (lessening the chances of survivors), and can carry large trucks that can hold explosives. Additionally, security screening is much more lax than at airports. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, if a large ferry was attacked, an estimated 400 passengers could die--about twice as many as expected to be killed in an airplane attack.

Although ferry owners and operators have accepted the necessity of increased security in a post-9/11 world, some worried that an increase in required security screenings would lead to higher operating costs and create delays.

In the mid-2000s, New York City announced plans to expand operations of its Staten Island Ferry to meet increased demands. Three new ferries were designed and built, at a cost of approximately $40 million each. The first two were delivered in September 2004 and March 2005. Each can carry 4,440 passengers and 30 vehicles. Expansion also included two new terminals and extended services, with more runs in the evenings and on weekends. The Staten Island Ferry, which is a municipal service, stopped transporting vehicles following September 11, 2001. Fares are free. Each year the Staten Island Ferry transports nearly 20 million passengers on a 5.2-mile route between the St. George Terminal in Staten Island and the Whitehall Terminal in lower Manhattan.

A private venture, with the help of $25 million in federal funding for infrastructure expenses, was expanding fast ferry service between the Hawai'ian Islands. In 2004, Hawaii Superferry announced plans to invest over $100,000 to operate a fast ferry interisland system. Hawaii Superferry contracted with Austal USA to build two 340-foot high-speed, roll-on/roll-off catamarans to be delivered between 2006 and 2008. Hawaii Superferry provides transport services for passengers, vehicles, and freight between Oahu, Kauai, Maui, and the Big Island. Each catamaran, which is four-stories tall and the length of a football field, can hold 900 passengers and up to 280 vehicles, including trucks and buses. Traveling at speeds up to 45 miles an hour, the ferries can make complete a trip from Honolulu to Maui and Kauai in just three hours, for about half the cost of airfare. The maiden voyage of the Alakai happened in August 2007. By early 2008, the Alakai was drydocked for repairs. By 2009, Hawaii Superferry expects to introduce a sister ship to the Alakai.

Current Conditions

The Alakai joined its sister ship, the Huakai, completed in March 2009, which would have connected Oahu and the Big Island; however, both ended up dry-docked. In fact, the final voyage of the Alakai capped "a period marked by lawsuits, low ridership and suspicion that its ultimate purpose had more to do with military contracts than with connecting the Hawaiian islands," Christopher Pala wrote in The New York Times.

U.S. ferry systems were awarded $60 million under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) in 2009, allocated for 19 states to either construct or repair their aging fleet or maintain or expand their terminal facilities. Areas slated to receive the largest awards were Nueces, Texas, $7.2 billion; Detroit, Michigan, $7.1 billion; Cumberland, Maine, $5.5 billion; and Richmond, New York, $4 billion.

Port security remained high on the list of top priorities when it came to securing U.S. ports. For fiscal year 2010, $288 million was allotted by the Port and Security Grant Program, as well as an additional $150 million directed at port security provided by the Recovery Act.

The Washington State Department of Transportation awarded a $114 million contract to Todd Pacific Shipyards of Seattle to build two additional 64-car ferries, following the Chetzemoka that was put into service in late summer 2010. The highly anticipated delivery was slated for 2011 for the first ferry and 2012 for the second.

The economic downturn prompted Washington's governor, Chris Gregoire, to take a closer look at the largest U.S. ferry system by commissioning the Passenger Vessel Association in March 2009 for an in-depth analysis of Washington's ferry system in an effort to reduce expenses. When completed, the analysis showed a total of 36 problem areas for the ferry system. In addition, the Washington State Ferry System announced 2010 plans to put a reservation system in place for vehicles traveling to and from the San Juan Islands. While the state focused on eliminating the need for expanding ferry terminals, which would in turn save the state $280 million, riders feared price hikes would come as early as 2011. The Washington legislature awarded more than $5.8 million for the project, which was slated to be complete by 2018. In the meantime, the San Juan County Ferry Advisory Committee, through town meetings, was weighing in on the community's concerns before making any final decisions, as well as reviewing the three routes that were currently operating under the reservation system.

Elsewhere, the Herald of Everett reported the number of people riding ferries in western Washington fell by 3.6 million over a decade, which translated into a decline of more than 15 percent by 2009. Still, according to the State Department of Transportation, the number of annual ferry riders totaled 23 million. Part of the decline was a result of rider price hikes that swelled from 70 to 80 percent. The industry blamed higher fares on the elevated gas prices, rough economy, and delivery of four ferries to replace ones that were upwards of 80 years old. Still, based upon economic and population growth, Ray Deardorf, planning director for the ferry system, expected ferry ridership increases to continue, reaching 28.3 million by 2026.

Industry Leaders

Washington State Ferries.
As of 2008, the state of Washington owned 28 ferries and 20 terminals and oversaw more than 1,800 employees with a $325 million operating budget, making it the largest ferry operator in the United States. In 2008, more than 26 million passengers and vehicles boarded Washington State ferries--more than 13 million passengers and nearly 11 million vehicles. In 2009, the number of passengers and vehicles boarding the ferry fell to 23 million and 10 million, respectively, and the number of employees also dropped to 1,600.

In 2007, the average age of a Washington State ferry was 25 years, and four ferries were in service that were built in 1927. The largest class of the Washington State ferries is its three Jumbo Mark II class ferries: the Puyallup, the Tacoma, and the Wenatchee. These super jumbo ferries, all built in the late 1990s, have a capacity to carry 2,500 passengers and 200 automobiles. The smallest class of the Washington State fleet is the 112-foot Skagit and Kalama. Both these passenger-only ferries could carry 250 people. The longest of the ferry system's routes is the 40-mile international trip between Anacortes, Washington, and Sidney on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. The route winds its way through the San Juan Islands and takes approximately three hours. The shortest route is less than two miles between Tacoma and Vashon Island.

Ferry operators in Washington advertised the scenic beauty of the Puget Sound as early as 1890, and nearly 50 percent of the passengers in the mid-2000s were recreational riders, making the ferry system one of the state's biggest tourist attractions. The Washington State Ferry System officially began operation in 1951, when the state purchased the Puget Sound Navigation Company, which had operated as a regulated monopoly since 1935. In addition to the state system, there were 13 other ferries in Washington operated by county or private enterprises.

The Washington ferry system ran into trouble in the early 2000s, and set about aggressively cutting costs to stabilize the agency's budget in attempts to produce a surplus by 2009. The agency proposed fare increases, cuts in spending, and other measures, including situating shops and restaurants in downtown Seattle's Colman Dock. By the mid-2000s, the Washington State Ferry system was introducing concessions and shops within its terminal complexes, and in 2005, bids were being accepted to offer onboard concessions. Fares, which declined steadily during the 1980s and 1990s, began to rise sharply during the 2000s.

In November 2007, four Steel Electric-class ferries were retired from the fleet. These ferries were nearly 80 years old, and there were concerns about safety. In early 2008, the Washington State Department of Transportation announced that it would replace these Steel Electric-class ferries with three 50-car vessels. The proposed budget for this project is $100 million, with each vessel costing between $15-25 million.

Alaska Marine Highway.
The Awaaska Marine Highway was created in 1960, a year after Alaska became the 49th state. In 2008, the system operated eleven ferryliners serving more than 30 communities. After peaking above 420,000 passengers and 112,000 vehicles in the early 1990s, the Alaska Marine Highway experienced a gradual decline. In 2006, the ferry system reported more than 305,000 passengers and 97,000 vehicles. The state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities operates the Alaska Marine Highway.

The Alaska Marine Highway was designed to serve the communities of southeast Alaska, most of which could not be reached by highways. The ferries travel the Inside Passage, a natural seaway protected from the open ocean by the Alexander Archipelago. The first ferries ran between Haines and Juneau. Service was extended north to Skagway and south to Prince Rupert in 1961, and further south to Seattle in 1967. In 1989, Bellingham, Washington, replaced Seattle as the southern terminus of the line.

The trip between Bellingham and Skagway takes three-and-a-half days and covers more than 1,100 miles. Most of the Alaska ferryliners provide staterooms, showers, and food service. Passengers are also allowed to spread sleeping bags on the floor of the passenger lounges at night. Many passengers pitch tents on the open rear deck of the ferryliner.

In 1964, the Alaska Marine Highway created a second ferry system to serve communities in south-central and southwest Alaska, eventually extending from Whittier on Prince William Sound as far west as Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian Islands. All the routes combined serve more than 30 ports in Alaska, British Columbia, and Washington state, and cover more than 3,500 miles. In addition to providing transportation for residents of Alaska, the state ferry system also carries thousands of tourists annually.

During the late 1900s and 2000s, the Alaska Marine Highway updated its aging fleet. Although three ships built in 1963 and one built in 1964 were still in operation, several new ferries were added. In 1998, the $80 million Kennicott, a 382-foot ferry with a capacity of 748, including 340 berths, began service, and in 2004, the $326 million Fairweather, a 235-foot fast ferry, began service. The 180-foot roll-on/roll-off vessel Lituya was also launched in 2004. In June 2005, a second fast ferry was introduced: the Chenega.

New York City Area Ferries.
Among the best-known ferries in the United States are the orange and blue Staten Island Ferries. The ferries provide the only direct link between the New York City boroughs of Manhattan and Staten Island. The ferries also provide tourists with a waterborne view of the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor. In the late 2000s, the ferries averaged more than 19 million passengers annually, or 65,000 per day on 110 daily trips.

The first official ferry service between Manhattan and Staten Island was chartered in 1712. Cornelius Vanderbilt operated one of three Staten Island ferry companies during the early 1800s. In 1853, Vanderbilt merged his service with the rival services. The Staten Island Railroad operated the ferry service from the late 1850s until 1905, when New York City purchased the route, making the Staten Island Ferries the first publicly owned mass-transit system in the United States. The cost of riding the Staten Island ferry remained five cents from 1897 until 1975.

As highways in the New York City area became increasingly more congested with commuters bound to and from work, a number of other ferry services were established. The new ferry routes link points wholly within the city, as well as points in New Jersey, Long Island, and Connecticut with the city. Unlike the publicly operated Staten Island Ferries, these newcomers to ferry service in the city are mostly privately run. In 2005 and 2006, Staten Island Ferries introduced three new ferries and opened two new terminals.

North Carolina Ferry Division.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation operated 24 vessels on seven routes in 2008. The ferries carry about 1.1 million cars a year and more than 2.5 million passengers. North Carolina, with its many inlets and offshore islands, entered the ferry business in 1934 when it began subsidizing a private ferry at Oregon Inlet. The state took over the Oregon Inlet ferry in 1950. The first state-owned ferry service, however, was on Croatan Sound. The state purchased the ferry operation in 1947 from the widow of a private operator.

Between 1947 and the early 1960s, the state inaugurated or acquired several more ferry routes using surplus World War II-type Landing Craft Tank (LCT) and Landing Craft Utility (LCU) vessels purchased from the U.S. government. Many of those ferry crossings were later eliminated by bridge construction. The first modern double-ended ferries were put in service in 1957. All of North Carolina's ferries were operated toll free until 1961, when the state assumed operation of the Pamlico Sound ferry between Atlantic and Ocracoke Island. In 1962, the state began ferry service between Knotts Island and Currituck to cut in half a 90-minute school bus ride for children living on the island. The North Carolina Department of Transportation Ferry Division was created in 1977, combining an early ferry operations department and a maintenance facility at Manns Harbor.

Other Ferry Services.
Of the private ferry service operations around the country, one of largest was run by Catalina Channel Express, Inc., based in San Pedro, California. Catalina Channel Express, which began operating in 1981, operated a fleet of eight passenger-auto ferries from the greater Los Angeles area to Catalina Island and carried more than one million passengers annually. The Cross Sound Ferry Services, Inc., ran eight vessels across Long Island Sound between Connecticut and the north shore of New York's Long Island. It was based in New London, Connecticut. Based in Alameda, California, Harbor Bay Maritime was another leading private ferry operation in the United States. It operated ferry routes in the San Francisco Bay Area. Other large private ferries included the Boston-based Bay State Cruise Co., Inc.

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News Guardian (Whitley Bay, England); February 19, 2018; 296 words
...detailed inspection of the ferry's hull, which this year...manages the cross-Tyne ferry service, always carries...months so that both of its ferries are ready for the busy summer season. The Shields ferry service, which has been...
Development of Green Parcel Adjacent Bijendra Ferry Ghat under Ward No 24
Mena Report; February 19, 2018; 325 words
Tenders are invited for Development of green parcel adjacent bijendra ferry ghat under ward no 24 Tender Value: INR 23,70,135 EMD Amount (INR): 47,403 Period Of Work(Days): 120 Bid validity...
Maine Island Ferry Service Fare Hike Would Hit Out-of-Staters Harder
Bangor Daily News (Bangor, ME); February 12, 2018; 700+ words
...The Maine State Ferry Service, under the...Transportation, runs ferries between mainland...that Isleboro's ferry generates enough...higher than other ferries in the fleet. The...involved."The ferry service argues Maine...already pay to keep the ferries running via a year...
Cab Investigates Fugitive Waste Operator Ferry
The Irish Times; February 12, 2018; 700+ words
...investigating fugitive Donegal waste operator Jim Ferry. The unit, which investigates suspected...bank account held in the name of one of Mr Ferry's relatives. It is understood that close...Confirmation that Cab is chasing the assets of Mr Ferry has come from the man himself - on a new...
Maine Shipbuilder Submits Lowest Bid to Build New Ferry Vessel for Maine State Ferry Service
US Fed News Service, Including US State News; February 16, 2018; 700+ words
...Doughty built three of the ferry boats currently in operation for the Maine State Ferry Service, and we look forward...fishing boats, barges, ferries and research vessels. In...service for the Maine State Ferry Service today."We are honored...
Shipbuilder Wins PS10m Ferry Contract; Commission Will Safeguard 80 Jobs
Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England); February 16, 2018; 619 words
...Port of Southampton. The new ferry is the fourth of its type to...the yard. It follows similar ferry contracts in recent years that...supplied Scottish operator Western Ferries with two similar vessels and...to deliver Red Funnel's new ferry in spring next year. Cammell...
Maine Shipyard Wins $8.8 Million Contract to Build State Ferry
Bangor Daily News (Bangor, ME); February 16, 2018; 424 words
...is slated to build the next Maine State Ferry Service vessel after submitting the lowest...for construction of the new, 154-foot ferry, designed to carry vehicles and passengers, according to an MDOT release.The ferry was designed by Gilbert Associates, Inc...

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