News Releases

Murray Secures Record Ferry Funding, Triples Funding to $720 Million over Six Years

Feb 12 2004

Investment today will mean growth, jobs, productivity tomorrow

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Senator Patty Murray today successfully included an amendment to the Senate surface transportation reauthorization bill (SAFE TEA) which more than triples the federal investment in ferry transportation across the country. Until today, ferries received just one-tenth of one percent of all surface transportation funding nationwide. SAFE TEA passed the Senate by a vote of 76-21.

A bipartisan group of Senators cosponsored Murray’s amendment including: Senators Boxer (D-CA), Cantwell (D-WA), Collins (R-ME), Clinton (D-NYT), Corzine (D-NJ), Edwards (D-NC), Feinstein (D-CA), Kennedy (D-MA), Lautenberg (D-NJ), Mikulski (D-MD), Murkowski (R-AK), Schumer (D-NY), Snowe (R-ME) and Stevens (R-AK).

“Ferry travel is an important and growing mode of transportation in Washington state and across the country. Despite this growing importance, our investment in ferries pales in comparison to those for highways and other forms of mass transit,” Murray said. “My amendment recognizes the importance of ferries to our nation’s transportation infrastructure and provides the resources and support they need to grow.”

Our nation’s ferry systems carry millions of people every year, and the numbers are rising. Growth projections forecast that ferry use will increase dramatically over the next six years. For the nation’s six largest ferry systems – Washington, Alaska, Hawaii, New York/New Jersey, North Carolina and San Francisco – there is a 14 percent projected growth for passenger traffic and a 17 percent expected increase in vehicles carried by ferries by 2009.

Despite these projected increases up until today, there was no corresponding increase in funds in the Senate bill.

“If we don’t expand our investment in ferries as demand soars, we will feel the same impacts we feel when a road is overcrowded. We will lose jobs, productivity and handicap our economic growth,” Murray said. “By increasing our ferry investment, we can reap big rewards for commuters, manufacturers, and our economy.”

Ferry Transportation Enhancement Amendment:

  • Increases ferry infrastructure funds from $38 million to $120 million per year for fiscal years 2004-2009. This is more than three times the amount currently provided per year under the program and allows ferry maintenance facilities to be eligible for funds from the Ferry Boat Discretionary Program.

Senator Murray also worked on and supported the underlying bill that would provide a 70.3 percent increase for Washington state in highway and transit funding from the previous authorization (TEA-21). Murray worked to increase the bill’s investments in freight mobility projects and to substantially greater investments in mass transit that will help alleviate congestion and increase mobility.