Congestion on the nation's roads and railways presents a serious national problem costing in excess of $78 billion (2005 dollars) a year in travel delay and wasted fuel, and this amount is increasing. In 1995 the total estimated cost was just over $45 billion; in 2004 just over $73 billion (The 2007 Urban Mobility Report, Texas Transportation Institute, September 2007). Contributing to this increase in total congestion cost are growing trade volumes, shifting population centers, land use conflicts (particularly in waterfront areas), and increasing energy cost. Increasing demand in the face of growing transportation system constraints affects the ability to move freight and people. Projections indicate the problem will continue to escalate. Limited land availability, coupled with the high cost of expanding or building new roads and rail systems in heavily populated areas around most U.S. cities, reinforces the need to develop alternatives.
The 25,000-mile marine transportation system offers opportunities to expand existing ferry routes and develop new ferry services, adding capacity to constrained transportation networks and, potentially, helping to meet the growing demand. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics 2006 Ferry Survey, annual one-way ferry patronage for 2005 exceeded 84 million passengers and 28 million vehicles, decreasing pressure on parallel transportation corridors. Ferry services could, however, play an even greater role in managing congestion and improving mobility. To meet that need, practical guidelines are required to evaluate opportunities for existing or new ferry service either as an alternative or as a complement to other transportation modes.
The objective of this research is to develop guidelines for planning, marketing, operating, and managing a ferry transportation system. The guidelines should examine the potential benefits of and impediments to ferry transportation services, and help establish planning, operational, and management benchmarks. The guidelines should, at a minimum, address the following: (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. The guidelines should include criteria that stakeholders can use to evaluate the viability of proposed ferry services and identify current planning, operating, and management practices effective in various geographical areas where ferry services are operating as a function of the type of service provided.
Status: The final report has been published as TCRP Report 152.