News Releases

Murray, Larsen Secure Ferry Funding Boost in Surface Transportation Bill

Jul 29 2005

Bill Increases Funding to $285 Million over Five Years

WASHINGTON, D.C.) - U.S. Senator Patty Murray and U.S. Representative Rick Larsen today announced the success of their collaborative effort to boost federal investment in ferry transportation across the country in the five-year surface transportation reauthorization bill (SAFETEA-LU). SAFTEA-LU passed the House today and is expected to clear the Senate tomorrow. It sets the funding levels for highways, bridges, rails and ferries through 2009. Until today, ferries received just one-tenth of one percent of all surface transportation funding nationwide.

Murray and Larsen had previously introduced partner legislation in the Senate and House respectively to increase ferry infrastructure funds.

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.

"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. "By increasing our ferry investment, we can reap big rewards for commuters, manufacturers, and our economy."

"In Washington state, ferries aren't tourist attractions. Ferries keep our commuters, our goods, and our economy moving," Larsen said. "This funding boost is a major shot in the arm for our ferries and our future."

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.

"The symbol of ferries moving people and vehicles across the Puget Sound is as much a part of our state's identity as Boeing aircraft and Washington apples," Senator Murray said. "I congratulate Congressman Larsen on his leadership on this issue. Working together, we've set the table to significantly increase federal ferry funding to our state," Murray said.

Larsen said, "Every year Senator Murray champions our state's transportation needs. She has come through once again for ferries and for Washington. I'm privileged to partner with her on this critical funding need."