Ferry Vessels

Calendar Year 2017 

A total of 739 unique vessels make up the 2017 U.S. ferry fleet, of which 96.1 percent were reported as in-service.  Of the total vessels, 10 are serviced by two different ferry operations. The largest number of vessels reported by state are 84 and 76 vessels, reported by New York and Massachusetts, respectively.  

Vessels by State

Map displaying ferry vessels by state
A ferry vessel can have its ownership and operation reported as private, public, or a combination of both.  Of the reported vessels, the majority are privately owned and operated.  Another 33.7 percent are publicly owned and operated (figure 7). 

Number of Vessels by Ownership and Operation

Heatmap of vessel ownership and operation
The NCFO collects if a vessel carries passengers, vehicles, and/or freight, of which 94.2 percent of vessels reported.  The results show that the majority of vessels carry passengers (96.9 percent), under half (40.3 percent) carry vehicles, and 18.9 percent carry freight.

What Vessels Transport

The majority of vessels carry passengers.  Of the 662 reported passenger vessels, 38.1 percent also carried vehicles and 17.7 percent also carried freight.  A total of 12.2 percent of reported vessels carried passengers, vehicles, and freight.
Vessel capacity, age, and speed are vessel characteristics collected by the NCFO. The average capacity on a passenger vessel is 307 persons, the median capacity is 149 persons, and the maximum capacity is 5,200 passengers. The average capacity of vehicle carrying vessels is 37 vehicles.  The median vehicle capacity is 22 and the maximum capacity is 202 vehicles. The average operating speed of the reported vessels is 13 knots,  The median speed is 12 knots, and the maximum is 42 knots. The average age of the reported vessels is 27 years, the median age is 24 years, and the oldest vessel is 104 years.

Vessel Characteristics

Figure displaying NCFO vessel characteristics

Vessel Fuel Source

Of the 711 (96.2 percent) vessels that reported on fuel source, the data showed that diesel fuel is still the most widely popular.  Less popular, but also less traditional fuel sources for vessels that were reported for 2017, are the 8 vessels using bio-diesel, 4 vessels powered by electricity, and 3 vessels fueled a hybrid of diesel-electric. 

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