$22M Federal Cash Wave Electrifies Bay Area Ferries

$22M Federal Cash Wave Electrifies Bay Area FerriesSource: Niagara, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Eileen Vargas
Published on November 30, 2023

Churning the tides towards a greener future, Bay Area ferry services just got a major cash infusion from Uncle Sam. The San Francisco Bay Area's waterborne transit operators are cruising on a $22 million wave of federal grants as part of President Biden's monumental Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, a big chunk of change is earmarked to power up the transition to an all-electric fleet and patch up some aging infrastructure.

Eclipsing its predecessors with a record-breaking fund, this year's trove of federal grants has spelled out big bucks for boats. Standing out among them, San Francisco Bay Ferry clinched a hefty $15.9 million grant, which aims to electrify the currents of innovation. Ditto for Golden Gate Transit, strutting away with $6 million to revamp a timeworn ferry landing at Sausalito Ferry Terminal, as per the dispatch from the Federal Transit Administration reported by the Chronicle. The ferries, operating like well-oiled machines after the pandemic, are navigating near full recovery, with Seamus Murphy of the Water Emergency Transportation Authority mentioning, to the San Francisco Chronicle, an 80% comeback in ridership since 2019.

In a sweeping announcement, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Transit Administration proclaimed grants totaling $220.2 million to rejuvenate America's ferry systems. As reported by the U.S. Department of Transportation, this initiative is part of a bigger picture to transport rural and urban communities into an era of sustainability. Ferry nice, indeed!

Secretary Pete Buttigieg, donning the captain's hat in transportation, remarked about the transformative power of ferries, having witnessed their utility firsthand in states like Alaska and Washington. "For many communities around the U.S., ferries are an important way to access jobs, medical care, and vital goods and services," he told FTA. "With these grants, we will be able to connect more people to the opportunities and resources they need to thrive even when their main route is a waterway rather a road."

It looks like American Samoa is also catching the green wave, with $21.2 million paddling in to acquire two low-emission vessels set to multiply service and reliability—all while trimming down greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile, New York City steers towards sustainability as well, with $7.5 million allocated for shoreside rapid charging, as detailed in a statement released by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Projects were selected based on just the criteria in the Notice of Funding of Opportunity, kids.

All these high-seas investments are merely the second swell of funding from President Biden's comprehensive infrastructure initiative, which has now poured more than $604 million into ferrying America into the future. Over the next three years, another $825 million is set to sail into ferry service and infrastructure, courtesy of the Biden-Harris flotation device for American transit. Keep an eye on the horizon for more updates on these buoyant projects.