News Releases

State will use federal grant to maintain commuter ferry service in Puget Sound

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, announced today that the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) will receive $39.2 million in funding from Federal Transit Administration (FTA) for COVID-19 relief. The funding comes from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which Congress passed earlier this year.  

“It is vitally important that our ferries continue running safely to help first responders get to the frontlines of this pandemic and help ensure our ferries are ready for when we’re finally on the other side of this crisis. I’m glad to see these critical federal funds flow to Washington state and will keep fighting for more relief to help our commuter ferries weather this storm,” Senator Murray said.

“Ferries are an essential part of everyday life for many Washingtonians, connecting residents to work, school, and family and friends – more than 23 million passengers used them last year alone,” Senator Cantwell said. “While Washingtonians stay home to fight COVID-19, we want to make sure this critical piece of our state’s infrastructure stays up and running, and this federal funding will help do that.”

Millions of Washingtonians and thousands of visitors to the state use the services provided by Washington State Ferries (WSF) each year. In 2019, the state’s ferries served 23.9 million passengers. The system has been hit hard by COVID-19, however, with ridership declining by roughly 75% in recent months as opposed to previous years.

Murray, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Cantwell, the top Democrat on the Commerce Committee, have been strong advocates for transportation and infrastructure investment in Washington state. In negotiations for the CARES Act, Murray and Cantwell pushed for emergency transportation and infrastructure funding to support states and transit agencies hit hard by the crisis, ultimately securing $35 billion in aid for our nation’s transit systems and airports in the law. Murray and Cantwell also previously helped secure federal funding for Colman Dock and the state ferry system.

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