National Census of Ferry Operators

The National Census of Ferry Operators (NCFO) is a data collection conducted by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS).  The biennial census of ferry operators was first conducted by the BTS in 2006, and since then there have been five additional data collections, including the most recent, the 2018 NCFO.  The data collection is inclusive of all ferry operators within the United States and its territories, including operations in, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  The information collected from the census is maintained in the national ferry database containing information on ferry vessels, terminals, routes, ridership, funding, and more.  
The National Census of Ferry Operators (NCFO) mandate was first established in 2005 under the Safe, Accountable, Flexible Efficient Transportation Equity Act—A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), P.L. 109-59, Section 1801(e). The SAFETEA-LU required that “The Secretary of Transportation, acting through the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), shall establish and maintain a national ferry database that shall contain current information regarding routes, vessels, passengers and vehicles carried, funding sources and such other information as the Secretary considers useful.” The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act (Pub.L. No. 114-94) (Dec. 2015) continued the BTS mandate to conduct the NCFO and the requirement that the Federal Highway Administration use the NCFO data to allocate federal funds for ferry boat and terminal construction using a set formula. That formula is based on a percentage of the numbers of passenger and vehicle boardings and route-miles served.
This page highlights the results of the 2018 NCFO. The data captured by the 2018 NCFO represents calendar year 2017 operational data from those ferry operators that submitted their census.