An Evaluation of Public-Private Incentives to Reduce Emissions from Regional Ferries. Synthesis Report

Ferry services play an important and critical part of the overall transportation network in New York Harbor. Over the past 2 decades, New York and New Jersey have coordinated policy approaches to the public and private ferry services operating in the region. Events on September 11, 2001 impacted the northern New Jersey and lower Manhattan transportation infrastructure and network in significant ways. Subsequent to a massive emergency evacuation effort by all regional ferries and other harbor watercraft, ferry services added vessels and routes to substitute for lost transit mobility, and have been a significant contributor to new commute patterns. The Federal Government recognized the important flexibility ferries provided when critical infrastructure, roads and railways, were not available. In response, $100 million in federal funds were committed to the region for improvements to ferry facilities; part of this funding was targeted at mitigating environmental impacts of ferry services. These federal funds were targeted to significantly enhance and improve existing services, to enable new services to start-up, and to improve dock-side facilities for ferry riders. While some of the additional ferry routes and vessels served a temporary need to meet a shifting travel pattern during reconstruction of lost infrastructure (PATH service to lower Manhattan), ferry services continue to offer a flexible and extremely cost effective alternative to additional road and rail transit infrastructure. However, environmental impacts, particularly air pollution, from ferry services are not trivial. Regional ferry vessels account for a significant proportion of emissions from commercial vessels based on recent emissions inventory reports for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. For example, ferries are estimated to contribute approximately 17% of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emissions and approximately 10% of particulate matter (PM) emissions from commercial marine totals for the region. Mitigating ferry emissions represents a complex technology-policy problem. Emissions reductions of existing ferries are needed to offset emissions that may result from other necessary projects in the New York Harbor such as the harbor deepening (dredging) to accommodate container vessels serving the New York Harbor. Reductions in emissions from both existing and new ferries may enable expansion of ferry service and overall regional mobility (for both passengers and freight) while still meeting air quality objectives required under the Clean Air Act (2003). And importantly, ferry emissions reductions may contribute to net reduction of air pollution that benefits human health and the environment. Reducing emissions from ferries in New York Harbor requires participation from the private sector, because approximately 97% of the total ferry route miles are served by private owner-operators. Moreover, these ferry services operate between two states that have different governance, approaches, and degree of control over ferry operations. Because of these unique control and governance conditions, public decisions to reduce emissions must consider both government incentives and regulations to achieve reduction goals. Different combinations of incentive instruments, control technologies, and emission reduction targets will vary in terms of public cost, private cost, and emission reductions achieved through incentives versus regulation. In an effort to identify ways to achieve air emission reductions from the unregulated ferry fleet in the New York Harbor, environmental considerations were included early in discussions about the emergency ferry funding allocated to the region to accommodate increased ferry service during the time it would take to bring PATH service back to lower Manhattan after the destruction to the transportation links between New York and lower Manhattan. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) provided funding to the Rutgers/ University of Delaware team to evaluate incentive options which could encourage private ferry operators to participate in a retrofit program. Funds are also being provided to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) for a complementary project to test, retrofit, and post-test selected emissions reduction technologies. The Rutgers/University of Delaware research project is designed to assist decision-makers by providing information about market and economic incentives used to motivate polluters to reduce environmental impacts and to conduct an independent evaluation of various technology/policy combinations that could encourage private operators to effectively reduce emissions from their fleets of vessels in support of emissions reductions goals.

  • Corporate Authors:

    Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center

    Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
    33 Livingston Avenue
    New Brunswick, NJ  United States  08901

    Rutgers University, New Brunswick

    Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy
    33 Livingston Avenue
    New Brunswick, NJ  United States  08901

    University of Delaware, Newark

    Newark, DE  United States  19716

    Energy and Environmental Research Associates, LLC

    2 Babcock Farms Lane
    Pittsford, NY  United States  14534

    Federal Transit Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Authors:
    • Corbett, James J
    • Winebrake, James J
    • Chapman, David
    • Woods, Pippa
  • Publication Date: 2005-7


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Web
  • Features: Tables;
  • Pagination: 15p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01054020
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: FTA Project ID: NJ-42-0002-00, University of Delaware Project: MAST 432201
  • Files: TRIS, USDOT
  • Created Date: Jul 2 2007 11:10AM