Millions in federal funds coming to Washington ferry providers

The money could help Washington State Ferries recover from the Cathlamet crash.

Washington State Ferries and King County Metro will receive money from the Federal Highway Administration for improving ferry services, however, it is too early to tell how that money will be used.

The Federal Highway Administration announced it will distribute $172 million through its Ferry Boat Program formula funding, according to Washington State Ferries.

This is the first release of funding since the Bi-Partisan Infrastructure Law was passed in 2021, according to Public Information Officer Ian Sterling.

Nine ferry operators in Washington will receive $42.4 million in funding from the Ferry Boat Program; $38 million will go to Washington State Ferries and an expected $380,000 will go to the King County Water Taxi.

Funds are allocated by the Federal Highway Administration based on levels of service among other criteria. King County Metro has previously used money from the Ferry Boat Program for vessel preservation, float replacement and maintenance of the Passenger Only Ferry Terminal at Pier 50 which services Vashon Island.

Washington State Ferries doesn’t have specifics on how its $38 million will be spent, Sterling said. However, Washington State Ferries does rely heavily on funds from the Ferry Boat Program to support its vessel preservation & improvement program and ferry terminal improvement projects, Sterling said.

This influx of money could help Washington State Ferries recover from the Cathlamet crash, which has reduced the number of ferries in operation.