Ferry Vessels 

Vessels by State

A total of 618 vessels were reported in the 2022 NCFO, of which 89 percent were reported as in-service.  Out of the vessel count, 14 are utilized by two different ferry operations leaving 604 unique vessels. The largest number of in-service vessels reported by state are 86 and 55 vessels, reported by New York and California, respectively.  

Number of Vessels by Ownership and Operation

A ferry vessel can have its ownership and operation reported as private, public, or a combination of both.  Of the reported vessels, the majority (45.9 percent) are privately owned and operated.  Another 40.7 percent are publicly owned and operated. 

What Vessels Transport

The NCFO asks whether a vessel carries passengers, vehicles, and/or freight, of which 86.2 percent of vessels reported.  The results show that the nearly all of the ferry vessels carry passengers with 98.9 percent reporting carrying passengers. Additionally, 44.1 percent carry vehicles and 19.3 percent carry freight.

While the vast majority of ferries carry passengers, ferries also carry vehicles and freight.
Of the 537 reported passenger vessels, 29 percent also carried vehicles and 4.8 percent also carried freight.  A total of 13 percent of reported vessels carried passengers, vehicles, and freight.
A majority of vessels (53 percent) only carried a single type of passengers or cargo. Of these, it was most common among passenger ferries. While 52 percent of passenger ferries carried only passengers, only 1.3% of all ferries carrying vehicles only carried vehicles and 2.9% of ferries carrying freight only carried freight.

Vessel Characteristics

Vessel capacity, age, and speed are vessel characteristics collected by the NCFO. 
  • The average capacity on a passenger vessel is 346 persons, the median passenger capacity is 150, and the maximum is 5,200.
  • The average capacity of vehicle carrying vessels is 40 vehicles.  The median vehicle capacity is 27 and the maximum capacity is 197 vehicles.
  • The average operating speed of the reported vessels is 13.3 knots.  The median speed is 11 knots, and the maximum is 35 knots.
  • The average age of the reported vessels is 27 years, the median age is 24 years, and the oldest vessel is 105 years.

Vessel Fuel Source

Of the 570 (92 percent) vessels that reported on fuel source, the data showed that diesel fuel is still the most widely popular.  In addition to 468 vessels that used diesel and gasoline fuels, 25 vessels were using bio-diesel, 8 vessels used a diesel/electric hybrid, and 4 vessels used electricity. 

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