Guidelines for Ferry Transportation Services

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Publication Date


Subject Area

economics - benefits, economics - operating costs, mode - ferry, place - north america


Case studies, Ferry service, Guidelines, Market assessment, North America, Transportation operations, Transportation planning, Travel demand


This report examines the history and characteristics of ferry systems throughout North America and, based on this review, develops guidelines for planning, marketing, operating, and managing a ferry system as a component of an overall transportation network. These guidelines examine the potential benefits of and overall transportation network. These guidelines examine the potential benefits of and impediments to ferry transportation services and help establish planning, operational, and management benchmarks: (a) ability to increase capacity of the local, regional, or national transportation network; (b) potential to reduce travel congestion; (c) degree of potential environmental mitigation; (d) potential effect on local and regional economies; (e) procedures for measuring cost effectiveness; and (f) ability to contribute to disaster/emergency preparedness. Included are criteria that transportation system planners and decision makers can use to evaluate the viability of proposed ferry services as a function of specific location, travel demand, and overall market conditions. The guidelines are aimed at policymakers who are considering ferry services as a transportation option, entrepreneurs who are considering investing in new or expanded ferry services, and existing operators who could use the "how-to" portions of this research. The guidelines identify those factors that help create competitive ferry service in specific markets, particularly where roads and bridges are congested, where ferries can offer direct paths of travel, and where markets are large enough to support capital and operating expenses associated with provision of ferry services.


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