Ferry Operators

Ferry or water taxi operations are defined as those that:
  • Have fixed routes between two or more different ports of call (an origin and destination)
  • Provide service on a fixed schedule or on demand within a fixed window of time
  • Are common carriers meaning that they serve the general public at reasonable rates and without discrimination, and/or
  • Are railroad car float operations that utilize a tug and barge combination.

Operational Trip Purpose

Ferries are operated in the United States for a variety of reasons and can be thought of as an extension of the highway system by water. The 2022 NCFO reports 122 operators who have provided details on the services offered with commuter transit (68 percent) and transportation for pleasure/recreation (60 percent) as the two most common purposes for ferry trips. Other reported trip purposes include roadway connections, emergency services, lifeline service (island access to the mainland), and travel to and around a National Park.

Operators Per State

There are a total of 139 operators included in the 2022 NCFO. California, New York, and Washington were the states with the most operators based in those states with 12, 10, and 10 operators respectively. Of the 54 states, territories and the District of Columbia, 35 reported at least one ferry operator in the state.

Operator Funding

Of the 91 operators that provided revenue information to the 2022 NCFO, the majority (69 percent) reported that at least part of their revenue came from ticket sales. Of these operators, a median of 94 percent of their funding came from ticket sales. The second most reported type of funding was private contract revenue with 40 percent of operators reporting this type of revenue. This common source of revenue accounted for a smaller percentage of operators' revenue with a median value of 8 percent.
91 operators provided information about their funding sources. Of these responders, at least some revenue was derived from:
  • Ticket Sales - 69 percent
  • Local funding - 25 percent
  • State funding - 32 percent
  • Federal funding - 27 percent
  • Private contracts - 40 percent
  • Public contracts - 15 percent
  • Advertising - 13 percent
  • Other - 18 percent

Non-Response Operators by State

Hover over a state for more information about response rates.
A total of 65 ferry operators (out of the 139 responding operators) reported on behalf of a federal, state, or local government agency. The remaining 74 operators are identified as private.  101 known ferry operators did not respond to the 2020 NCFO.

Return to the NCFO Landing Page
For questions about this data or its use, please contact us at: ferry@dot.gov