FTA grant puts more NY Waterway ferries on the path to all-electric operation

Written by Nick Blenkey
First NY Waterway ferry to receive a full repower

Last year, New York Waterway’s ferry Hoboken was the first of six to be repowered, now an FTA grant will put four more of the operator’s vessels on the path to eventual full electrification. [Image: NY Waterway]

U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker (both D-N.J.) said yesterday that a total of $11,298,010 million in federal transportation grants is being made to two New Jersey ferry operations through the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Passenger Ferry Grant program.

A major beneficiary is NY Waterway. It will use a $7.298 million grant made to it and NJ Transit to repower four of its older ferries from traditional diesel driven units to hybrid technology, putting them on the path to eventual all-electric operation.

NY Waterway is also an indirect beneficiary of the second New Jersey FTA grant, a $4 million award to Monmouth County to upgrade the Belford Ferry Terminal in Middletown, N.J. The terminal is used by NY Waterway to provide a commuter service between Middletown and the World Financial Center in New York City.

The NY Waterway repower project will consist of removing all main engines and generators, replacing them with two electric driven propulsion motors, a 150 kWh battery bank and two smaller emergency diesel generators. Even after eventual full electrification, the generators will provide redundancy in the event of a power failure and a backup system in the event of pro-longed power outages, emergency evacuations, or any other event in which vessels may be used in a capacity when charging may hinder efforts. Past examples of these have included 9/11, the 2003 northeast blackout, and the Flight 1549 “miracle on the Hudson” rescue.

In 2022 NY Waterways reported that the first of six ferries had received a full engine retrofit to drastically cut emissions, under a separate program with NJ Transit. With this latest announcement, up to 10 of NY Waterway’s ferries are now slated for upgrades that will make them greener, quieter and more efficient.

“Ferries are already a green way to take cars off our region’s bridges, tunnels and roadways and this important funding means that now they’ll become even greener,” said Armand Pohan, President & CEO of NY Waterway. “It’s always our mission to be a good neighbor and steward of the environment, and we are grateful to our partners at NJ TRANSIT, the FTA and Senators Menendez and Booker for this program to upgrade more boats.”

“Ferry service is a critical component of the transportation network in New Jersey,” said New Jersey Department of Transportation Commissioner and NJ Transit Board Chair Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti. “This funding will help set the stage for a sustainable and environmentally friendly ferry system of the future.”

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