Ferry Terminals and Segments

Ferry Terminals Serviced by Multiple Operators

The 2020 NCFO results told us that in 2019 there were a total of 650 U.S. ferry terminals.  Of the total, 55 ferry terminals were serviced by more than one ferry operator.  The Oak Bluffs Terminal in Massachusetts was reported by six separate ferry operations. The Nantucket Terminal in Massachusetts, Pier 11 terminal in New York City, and Perrotti Park in Newport, Rhode Island each reported 4 separate ferry operations.

Terminals by State

The northeast, west coast, upper peninsula of Michigan, and Alaska contain the highest numbers of ferry terminals.  In 2019, New York had the greatest number of terminals with 72. California had the second most with 60 terminals.  

Number of Terminals by Ownership and Operation

Ferry terminal ownership and operation can be identified as public, private, or a combination of both.  In 2019, the majority of the ferry terminals (62.56 percent) were owned and operated by a public entity, while 19.19 percent were reported as owned and operated by a private entity. 

Terminal Intermodal Connections

Ferry intermodal connections are defined as any transportation mode accessible within 100 yards a ferry terminal.  In 2019, 643 out the 650 terminals reported some form of intermodal connection.  The majority of ferry terminals (74 percent) reported parking to connect passengers to their personal vehicle.  Local bus service was the second popular connection.  Intercity bus service,  local and intercity rail service and bike share were reported to have fewer intermodal connections to ferry terminals.  

Ferry Segments

Ferry Segments by State

A ferry segment is the direct route that the boat takes between two terminals with no intermediate stops.  The assigned state of the segment is that of the origin terminal.  The majority of reported ferry segments were concentrated in the northeast, on the west coast, and in Alaska.  Nearly half (49.5 percent) of the total reported ferry segments came from just the top five states.  Those states are Alaska (120 segments), New York (119 segments), California (96 segments), Washington State (76 segments), and Michigan (52 segments).
The set of 934 unique segments (excludes segments reported by more than one operator) covered a combined total of 21,815.4 nautical miles with an average distance of 11.7 nautical miles per route segment.  The highest number of reported State route-miles was in Alaska, where 11,360.5 miles were reported, totaling over half (52.1 percent) of the reported route-miles. 

Segments categorized by Distance in Nautical Miles

Nearly half of ferry segments are 5 miles or shorter (48.59 percent).  Overall, ferry route-miles in the United States ranged from the distance of 0.01 miles to 595 miles.  The longest U.S. ferry route stretches from Ketchikan, AK, to Bellingham, WA.

Segment Type by State

The majority of these segments are intrastate (84.3 percent), which means that the segment does not cross state lines. The largest percentage of interstate segments, segments that do cross state lines, were in the northeast and are primarily ferries linking New York City to New Jersey. 
Of these northeastern states, New Jersey and New York had a relatively large proportion of these segments, 30 and 37, respectively. 
In addition, there were 12 international segments originating or ending at a terminal in a non-U.S. state or territory.

National Park Service Segments by State

Over 15 percent of the reported U.S. ferry segments in 2019 were identified as being operated to or within the U.S. National Park System (NPS).  The NPS includes those locations that were listed under the official designation.  Of the 142 reported ferry segments serving an NPS unit, the majority (60.5 percent) were reported in three states: Michigan (36), New York (33), and California (17). Most NPS segments operate intrastate.
A large majority of the NPS segments, 125 (88.0 percent), provide access to islands.  The lengths of NPS segments range from 0.02 to 312 nautical miles, while the median length is 8 nautical miles.

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For questions about this data or its use, please contact us at: ferry@dot.gov