Kilmer, Cantwell, Murray, Celebrate $7.7 Million Federal Grant for Kitsap Transit Zero Emission Passenger Ferry
Bremerton, WA – Today, U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer (WA-06) and U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) announced that Kitsap Transit will receive $7,700,000 in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Passenger Ferry Grant Program. The funding will help Kitsap Transit replace a passenger-only diesel-powered vessel on the Port Orchard and Annapolis routes with a new passenger-only, zero emission battery-electric ferry. The proposed battery-electric, passenger-only ferry vessel will increase passenger capacity to accommodate 150 passengers and aims to reduce emissions, reduce maintenance costs, and nearly eliminate engine noise. The new vessel, which does not yet have a name, is expected to be delivered in early 2026.
“Having the federal government step up and assist Kitsap Transit in its efforts to provide ferry service to folks in our region has been a priority for me – and for our community,” said Rep. Kilmer. “This is big news because it will help Kitsap Transit reduce emissions, improve existing services, and provide greater public access in getting people where they need to go. And it’s also big news for local taxpayers and ferry passengers because the costs of vessel replacement won’t be borne just by folks in our neck of the woods. These federal investments are winners for our planet and for our economy!”
“We are extremely thankful for this grant and for the FTA’s support of Kitsap Transit’s local ferry system,” said Kitsap Transit Executive Director John Clauson. “I’m also grateful for the support our grant application received from U.S Congressman Derek Kilmer and Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, who have pushed for investments in clean transportation infrastructure.”
“This $7.7 million Passenger Ferry Grant will fully fund Kitsap Transit’s replacement of the Admiral Pete foot ferry. The new zero-emission, all-electric passenger ferry is critical to helping us reduce maritime emissions, and will increase passenger capacity to better serve more than 1,000 daily riders on the Port Orchard and Annapolis routes,” said Senator Cantwell. “As the population of Kitsap County continues to grow and ferry traffic increases throughout the region, it’s important that we invest in more efficient green, zero-emission transportation to connect residents to their families, jobs, and the greater Puget Sound.”
“Like so many others in our state, ferries are a part of my commute, so I know first-hand just how important it is that they are running on schedule and safely to get people where they need to go,” said Senator Murray. “That's why I work every year on the Appropriations Committee, and why I fought to include in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, funding to not only fix our ferries, but also to electrify and modernize our ferry fleets, and upgrade our ports. Today's announcement is a big win for our environment and Washington state's ferry riders—and thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we're going to be seeing more announcements like this one in the future that will mean shorter and more reliable commutes for people across Puget Sound."
On Feb. 8, 2022, Washington’s state legislative leaders introduced a $16 billion transportation package that would provide Kitsap Transit $6.5 million to support the all-electric ferry project.
“This FTA grant, coupled with funding from the state’s historic transportation package, will help us build and support a sustainable, environmentally friendly fleet,” Clauson said. “These two funding sources will support the construction of an all-electric local ferry and the installation of infrastructure necessary to charge the vessel.”
Washington state is home to the largest ferry system in the nation. Replacing this passenger-only diesel vessel with a new zero-emission battery-electric ferry will help Kitsap Transit align with federal goals to reduce transit emissions. In September 2021, Rep. Kilmer wrote to U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in support of Kitsap Transit’s grant application.
The Admiral Pete, the foot-ferry currently serving the Port Orchard and Annapolis routes, was built in 1994, can only carry 120 passengers, and has resulted in costly maintenance needs as the vessel has aged. The Port Orchard and Annapolis routes serve more than 1,000 passengers daily, two of Kitsap Transit’s most efficient passenger-per-hour routes. In addition to replacing the aging ferry, the project will also help establish electric charging infrastructure at the Bremerton terminal. Fast, frequent, and reliable ferry service will provide local connections between Annapolis, Bremerton, and Port Orchard, where passengers can connect to Kitsap Transit bus service at Port Orchard and Annapolis, and connect to either fast-ferry service or Washington State Ferry service with connections to downtown Seattle from Bremerton.
The Passenger Ferry Grant Program funds capital projects that help eligible project sponsors support existing passenger ferry service, establish new ferry service, and upgrade ferry boats, terminals, and related facilities and equipment. The grants also help transit agencies and ferry companies offset the considerable cost of introducing new, climate-friendly propulsion technologies.
Under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, signed by President Biden on November 15, 2021, the Passenger Ferry Grant Program will not only continue but will also be complemented by two new passenger ferry competitive grant programs, including:
- Up to $2 billion for Ferry Service for Rural Communities to improve access and mobility in areas where ferry service is a critical link for communities
- Up to $500 million for an Electric or Low-Emitting Ferry pilot program to support the transition of passenger ferries to low- or zero-emission technologies, which will help fight the climate crisis
More information on the DOT grant announcement is available HERE.