U.S. ferries carried 131.6 million passengers in 2019

Written by Nick Blenkey
commuter ferry

IDemand for passenger-only commuter ferries, like this NYCC Ferry vessel, has been growing. [Image: Incat Crowther

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) today released data sets from its 2020 National Census of Ferry Operators (NCFO).

Key findings from the 246 ferry operators that responded indicated that 131.6 million passengers were carried on ferries in the U.S. and its territories in 2019.

Infograpgic shows purposes of ferry trips
DOT statistics show that commuter travel accounts for most ferry trips

The reporting ferry operators provided service through 760 terminals on 1,106 unique route segments in 40 states, three U.S. territories, and two Canadian Provinces, using a fleet of 839 active vessels.

The Department of Transportation says that 67% of operators reported passengers using ferries to go to work and 59% of operators transport passengers to recreational destinations.

Data files from the 2020 NCFO, as well as data and visuals from previous censuses, can be found on the NCFO home page. Visualizations from the 2020 NCFO will be released in fall 2021.

The NCFO is a biennial census of all known ferry boat operations within the U.S. and its territories. Ferry operations included within the scope of the NCFO are those providing itinerant, fixed route, and common carrier passenger and/or vehicle ferry service.

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