Washington State Ferries will receive $11.6 million in grants announced Thursday

U.S. Senator Cantwell and Senator Murray announced Thursday that Washington State Ferries will receive three grants totaling $11.6 million.

The grants will go toward creating more electric ferries, a new terminal and upgrading payment systems.

“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,” Sen. 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 first grant will fund the construction of an electric charging station at the Clinton Ferry Terminal, which connects Whidbey Island and mainland Washington. The charging station will serve two new electric ferries that are expected to arrive by 2028, one of which will become the state’s first hybrid electric ferry and will reduce emissions on each crossing by 95%.

In 2022, the route was used by over 3 million riders, making it the second most popular route under Seattle to Bainbridge, according to Sen. Cantwell.

The second grant will help fund construction of a new passenger terminal for the Southworth to Vashon and Southworth to Fauntleroy routes. The new terminal will accommodate more passengers in cars, via transit, on bikes, and on foot. These routes served over 650,000 riders in 2022, Sen. Cantwell said.

“Like so many in Washington state, ferries are a part of my commute, so I know first-hand just how important it is that they are running on schedule to get people where they need to be,” Sen. Murray said. “We really depend on our ferries, that’s why I worked tirelessly to secure new funds to help WSDOT expand and improve their service and achieve their goal of electrifying the entire WSF system, because, with the largest ferry system in the country, it’s so important we lead the way in electrifying our system and reducing its environmental impact as much as possible. With these grants, we can improve efficiency, lower emissions, and safely get families from Point A to Point B.”

The third grant will go toward new payment kiosks and upgrading online payment options. The new kiosks will allow for chip readers, making them more secure, according to Sen. Cantwell.