(Seattle, WA.)- Today, at a press conference at Seattle's Colman Dock, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) announced that she secured $285 million over the next five years for ferry systems nationwide.
Murray, the ranking member of the Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, boosted federal investment in ferry transportation during the reauthorization of the five-year surface transportation bill, known as SAFETEA-LU.
Standing on the ferry dock for a press conference with Rep. Rick Larsen and Washington State Transportation Secretary Doug McDonald, Murray said funding will improve transportation and create local jobs.
"This increased funding is great news for commuters, manufacturing jobs, for productivity and for our economy because we will now have more money to use in the coming years to fund our state's ferry system," Murray said. "That will mean new ferries and new jobs."
Senator Murray also added that these new jobs are crucial to Washington State. "Today, Washington State Ferries and private companies operate the largest passenger ferry system in the country. By 2009, our passenger ferries are projected to carry 30 million passengers and 13 million vehicles each year."
This boost in funding for ferry systems nationwide comes at a critical time for the nation's ferry system. For the nation's six largest ferry systems-Washington, Alaska, Hawaii, New York/New Jersey, North Carolina, and San Francisco- there is 14 percent projected growth for passenger traffic and a 17 percent expected increase in vehicles carried by ferries by 2009.
Through Senator Murray's efforts, SAFETEA-LU increases annual ferry funding over fiscal years 2005-2009 from $38 million in fiscal year 2005 to $67 million in fiscal year 2009. With such an increase in funding, Murray said, "This new law makes the federal government a stronger partner in ferry system from coast to coast."
More information on the funding increase
After the press conference in Seattle, Murray and McDonald rode the ferry to Bremerton where they met with local leaders and spoke about the new funding.