New York City has been awarded over $7 million from the federal government to help electrify the ferry service to Governors Island.
The U.S. Federal Transit Administration is giving a $7.48 million grant to the city to fund the installation of charging infrastructure for a coming hybrid-electric Governors Island Ferry that is slated to set sail this summer, which Mayor Eric Adams announced earlier this year.
“We are putting innovative technology to work — reinforcing Governors Island as a nation-leading center of climate innovation and welcoming this first-of-its-kind public, electric vessel to provide cleaner air in New York Harbor,” said Adams. “We are grateful to the Federal Transit Administration and to our federal, state, and city partners who joined us in advocating for this investment in New York City.”
The zero-emission ferry service is just the latest effort to use Governors Island as a hub for fighting climate change.
In April, Adams announced plans for a $700 million campus, which will take over 400,000 square feet of land on the island, called the “New York Climate Exchange,” that will provide space for research and training for green jobs. That facility is expected to open in 2028.
With construction of the facility led by Stony Brook University, the hub will help make New York City into a global leader in fighting climate change, Adams said at the time.
“This is where we’ll meet the challenge of climate change head-on,” he said. “This is where we will protect our cities air and water. And this is where we will train thousands of students for the next wave of green jobs.”
Clare Newman, the President and CEO of the Trust for Governors Island, said the federal government’s investment in their efforts to electrify transportation to the island will further burnish the space’s reputation as a “champion” for environmental sustainability.
“As Governors Island grows as a model for sustainable urban environments, we are proud to be able to make this critical investment that will equip New York Harbor with its first ever electric passenger ferry,” said Newman in a statement. “With this grant, the shoreside charging station powering our new ferry will serve hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, while also championing environmental sustainability.”
The hybrid-electric ferry will help eliminate 800 tons of carbon emissions per year, according to the city.
A look at the future
With the ability to toggle between zero-emission battery-only power and battery-assisted hybrid, along with a diesel backup, the ferry will begin transporting passengers to Governors Island in summer of 2024.
Replacing an existing diesel-powered vessel, the new ship will have a cruising speed of 10 knots, and be managed by the Trust for Governors Island.
Once operational, the ferry will serve up to 1,200 passengers at a time, while featuring an Americans with Disabilities Act-accessible lounge and restrooms on each level.
The latest investment from the federal government comes as part of the 2021 infrastructure bill passed by a bipartisan majority in congress — widely thought of as a key accomplishment of President Joe Biden.
The money will be used to help build a rapid charging station, which will be located at the Soissons Ferry Landing on Governors Island, with construction anticipated to be completed in 2025.
“Exclusively accessible by ferry, Governors Island is a national treasure that offers a range of unique resources that should be enjoyed by all New Yorkers,” said U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. “This $7.48 million in funding will allow for the construction of critical shoreside infrastructure to enable rapid charging for ferry vessels.”
In addition to the grant supporting Governors Island’s coming electric ferry, the federal government also provided New York City with a $3.5 million grant to fund the rehabilitation of a storage facility used in the operations of the Staten Island ferry.
“With another major win for the Staten Island Ferry, our administration is helping Staten Islanders get to work in the morning and home to their families in the evening,” Adams said.
Locally referred to as “Building 45,” the storage facility has long had much-needed repairs, and the grant will make those upgrades possible.
“Every year, tens of millions of passengers rely on the Staten Island Ferry for their daily commutes and more, and Governors Island welcomes nearly 1 million visitors,” said U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer. “That’s why I fought so hard to include these much-needed funds in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to support Governors Island and Staten Island Ferry operations”