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Maritime Propulsion

January 24, 2023

NY Waterway to Upgrade Ferries with Hybrid Propulsion

© jjfarq / Adobe Stock

NY Waterway announced plans to repower four more of its older ferries, transitioning from traditionally diesel driven units to hybrid technology before eventually operating on pure electric.

The private company, which runs ferry and bus service in the Port of New York and New Jersey and in the Hudson Valley, was awarded $7.298 million in grant funding for the project through the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Passenger Ferry Grant program with the support of NJ TRANSIT.

Each ferry upgrade consists of removing all main engines and generators, replacing them with two electric driven propulsion motors, a battery bank of 150 KW hours and two smaller emergency generators creating redundancy. The anticipated useful life of this project is estimated at 10 years.

With this week’s announcement, up to 10 of NY Waterway’s ferries are now slated for upgrades that will make them greener, quieter and more efficient, after the company announced in 2022 that the first of six ferries has received a full engine retrofit under a separate program with NJ TRANSIT.

“Ferries are already a green way to take cars off our region’s bridges, tunnels and roadways and this important funding means that now they’ll become even greener,” said Armand Pohan, President & CEO of NY Waterway. “It’s always our mission to be a good neighbor and steward of the environment, and we are grateful to our partners at NJ TRANSIT, the FTA and Senators Menendez and Booker for this program to upgrade more boats.”

The funding is part of $11,298,010 million in federal transportation grants for two New Jersey ferry services announced by U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker (both D-N.J.). FTA’s Passenger Ferry Grant Program funds capital projects that help eligible project sponsors support existing passenger ferry service, establish new ferry service and upgrade ferry vessels, terminals and related facilities and equipment.

Monmouth County was awarded $4 million to make critical repairs and improvements to Middletown's Belford Ferry Terminal, which provides passenger ferry service to New York City. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ferry carried 1,300 daily passengers, and statistics from the first half of 2022 show ridership is returning to pre-pandemic levels. The county will use the funding to repair dockside infrastructure so that passengers are able to safely board and disembark the ferry, and maintain a state of good repair at the facility.

“Transportation funding that supports our local commuters is essential for both our state and regional economy as well as the communities that host these services,” said Sen. Menendez.  “Both the Belford Ferry and NY Waterway’s Hudson-New York ferry service are vital links in our transportation network that help reduce the number of vehicles on the road while investing in greener and more sustainable transit options.”

“Investing in modernizing our ferries and ferry terminals means quicker commutes, better access to jobs, and lower emissions and congestion for the region,” said Sen. Booker. “I am proud to announce these federal grants that will provide a more reliable, efficient, and cleaner experience for commuters and visitors alike.”

“The FTA’s nearly $7.3 million grant for our regional transportation infrastructure is not just an investment in our ferry system, but an investment in our region’s movement to climate-friendly technology,” said Rep. Rob Menendez. “We must continue to invest in our transportation infrastructure and improve transit options for our residents while transitioning to cleaner technologies. I look forward to working with the Biden Administration on these critical issues.”

“I am extremely proud to help New Jersey Transit secure this grant to improve ferry service for passengers, provide more jobs for workers, and protect the environment for all area residents,” said Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr.  “Transportation accounts for almost 30 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions nationwide and ferries are a strong contributor to climate change, particularly with their diesel engines. I introduced the GREEN Ferries Act in 2021 to encourage ferry operators to switch to electric-powered vehicles and it became the federal program that provided this grant. Again, I am pleased to hear that this grant will help improve passage across the New York Waterways and I look forward to riding one of New Jersey Transit’s electric-powered ferries soon.”

“Ferry service is a critical component of the transportation network in New Jersey,” said New Jersey Department of Transportation Commissioner and NJ TRANSIT Board Chair Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti. “This funding will help set the stage for a sustainable and environmentally friendly ferry system of the future."

“Each of these grants are great news for New Jersey and will help make sure commuters can get where they need to be safely. I’m excited that the Belford Ferry Terminal will receive federal funding to help make important safety repairs in my district,” said Rep. Frank Pallone. “This funding will help improve efficient and reliable transportation options in Monmouth County, reduce vehicle traffic, and ensure that the ferry remains a dependable form of transportation. I’ll continue to work with local leaders to ensure our communities get the federal funding they need to keep mass transit options accessible to commuters.”

“On behalf of the Monmouth County Board of Commissioners, I want to thank Senator Menendez, Senator Booker, and Congressman Pallone for helping to secure $4,000,000 for the Belford Ferry through the FTA Ferry Passenger Grant Program,” said Monmouth County Commissioner Director Thomas A. Arnone. “These much-needed funds will allow Monmouth County to make the necessary upgrades so we can continue to offer residents and commuters fast and reliable service to and from New York City. I look forward to continuing to work with all of our federal representatives on improving the lives of our county residents.”