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Federal grant to help Washington State Ferries electrify Mukilteo/Clinton route

Money will fund electric charging station


Last updated 2/8/2023 at 12:10pm

David Pan

A ferry heads into Mukilteo.

On Thursday, Jan. 24, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D) announced that Washington State Ferries (WSF) will receive a $4.9 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to bolster the Mukilteo/Clinton route.

WSF will be receiving three grants totaling $11.6 million from the Passenger Ferry Grant Program and the new Electric or Low Emitting Ferry Pilot Program, both included in the Biden-Harris Infrastructure Law (BIL) supported by Sen. Cantwell.

“These grants will help electrify one of Washington State Ferries’ busiest routes, create a better experience for the Southworth terminal’s nearly 800,000 annual passengers, and make buying a ferry ticket easier than ever,” Cantwell said. “Our state’s ferry system is one of the largest in the country, and ridership continues to grow. Smart upgrades like these keep Washington State Ferries on course to maintain the fast, reliable service we need.”

The following three grants were awarded to Washington State Ferries:

Mukilteo-Clinton Route Electrification ($4.9 million): The grant will help fund construction of an electric charging station at the Clinton Ferry Terminal to electrify this key route connecting Whidbey Island and mainland Washington.

The route was used by 3,397,956 riders in 2022, making it the second-most popular route in the system (Seattle-Bainbridge Island is the most popular). Currently, there are approximately 40 daily crossings on the route.

The charging station will serve two new electric ferries expected to be delivered in 2027 or 2028 – one of which is the Olympic-class MV Wishkah, set to become the state’s first new hybrid electric ferry – reducing emissions on each crossing by 95%. The total project cost for the charging station is $19.3 million.

Funding for this project came from the Electric or Low Emitting Ferry Pilot Program, a new program that provides competitive funding to purchase electric or low-emitting ferries, electrify or reduce emissions from existing ferries, and install related charging infrastructure. The BIL created this program and provided $250 million over five years.

Southworth Ferry Terminal Improvements ($5 million): The grant will help fund construction of a new passenger terminal, and improve passenger flow to accommodate an expected increase in riders whether they arrive in vehicles, via transit, bicycles, or on foot.

The Washington State Ferries’ Southworth-Vashon and Southworth-Fauntleroy routes served a total of 678,767 riders in 2022, and an additional 98,186 used the terminal to catch the Kitsap Transit Southworth-Seattle Fast Ferry.

The total project cost is $10 million.

New Payment Kiosks and Online Payment Upgrades ($1.7 million): The grant will help Washington State Ferries buy new payment kiosks and online payment options. The existing credit card readers are eight years old and aren’t equipped with chip readers.

The new payment kiosks will allow riders to insert their chip to pay, rather than swiping, which is a more secure form of payment. As part of the project, Washington State Ferries will also upgrade their online payment systems.

The total cost of the project is $2.17 million.

Funding for the Southworth project and the kiosk upgrades came from the Passenger Ferry Grant Program, which provides competitive funding that support passenger ferry systems in urban areas and constitutes a core investment in the enhancement and revitalization of public ferries.

Funds are awarded based on factors such as the age and condition of existing ferry boats, terminals, and related infrastructure; benefits to riders, such as increased reliability; project readiness; and connectivity to other modes of transportation.

The BIL secured $150 million for the program over five years.


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