NYC receives $7.5M from feds for new Governors Island hybrid ferry

December 4, 2023

Renderings courtesy of the Elliott Bay Design Group

Ferry systems in New York City are getting a boost from the federal government. The U.S. Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has awarded the city over $10 million to modernize its fleet, including $7.5 million for the new Governors Island hybrid ferry and $3 million for a storage facility for the Staten Island Ferry. The funding stems from President Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which was enacted in 2021 and includes up to $108 billion for public transportation.

Last week, the FTA announced over $220 million in grants for eight states and the territory of American Samoa to support ferry systems by increasing ferry service in rural areas, modernizing service in cities, and lowering emissions.

“With these grants, from President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, we will be able to connect more people to the opportunities and resources they need to thrive even when their main route is a waterway rather than a road,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement.

The city’s Department of Transportation will receive nearly $7.5 million to construct shoreside terminal infrastructure that will allow for rapid charging for ferries serving Governors Island. The $3 million will fund the rehabilitation of a DOT offsite storage facility for the Staten Island Ferry, the busiest passenger-only ferry service in the world, according to the city.

In March, Mayor Eric Adams unveiled the new Governors Island new hybrid-electric ferry, the first of its kind in New York City. Designed by Elliot By Design Group, the cutting-edge vehicle uses a hybrid propulsion system that significantly reduces air pollution, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by roughly 800 tons per year, according to a press release.

The ship’s hybrid propulsion system allows it to “toggle” between “zero-emission battery-only power” and “battery-assisted hybrid with diesel backup.”

Starting service between the island and Lower Manhattan in summer 2024, the ferry will serve up to 1,200 riders at a time and has a cruising speed of 10 knots. It includes modern amenities like a lower-level ADA-accessible lounge and bathrooms on each level. The ferry is under construction at the Conrad Shipyard facility in Morgan City, Louisiana.

The rapid charging infrastructure will be located at Soissons Ferry Landing on Governors Island, with estimated completion in 2025.

“New York City’s waterways are key arteries for our city — and the $10 million federal investment we have delivered for our ferry systems today will strengthen this smart, enjoyable way to enjoy the ride from point A to point B,” Adams said.

“With another major win for the Staten Island Ferry, our administration is helping Staten Islanders get to work in the morning and home to their families in the evening. At the same time, we are putting innovative technology to work — reinforcing Governors Island as a nation-leading center of climate innovation and welcoming this first-of-its-kind public, electric vessel to provide cleaner air in New York Harbor.”

Aerial view of The Exchange, showing the iconic forms designed to evoke the dramatic landscapes and hills of Governors Island. © SOM | Miysis

Governors Island is set to become the center of New York City’s fight against climate change. In April, NYC revealed its vision for a first-in-the-nation climate research hub on the island that will be dedicated to climate research and solutions and serve as a center for climate education and green job training.

Designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and led by Stony Brook University, the $700 million New York Climate Exchange will measure 400,000 square feet and include classrooms, laboratories, new open space, student and faculty housing, university hotel rooms, and more. Construction on the project is expected to begin in 2025, with the first phase slated for completion in 2028.


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