Five Department of Transportation components hosted the U.S. Ferry Transportation Service in the 21st Century Conference in Seattle(USA) in June. Four Administrations - U.S. Maritime, Federal Transit, Federal Highways, National Highway Traffic Safety and the U.S. Coast Guard pooled resources and speakers to invite participants from throughout the transportation industry and government to the national conference.
The objective of the conference was to identify and to address the issues of ferry boat design, construction and operation throughout America. Conference organizers said they were eager to provide a road map to public and private sector ferry boat industry interests for development and operation of ferry boat routes throughout the country.
The conference brought together a number of distinguished speakers. Four panels made presentations on their respective topics on regulatory issues and safety; operations; R&D areas including design; and financing. Recurring themes that overlapped several presentations included the recognition of safety as the paramount issue; the vital requirement for intermodal links to shorten timelines for door-to-door service; the synergistic improvements resulting from partnership; and the admission that private ferry services can cover operating costs but not capital improvements.
A packed conference room of 220 participants from as far away as Hawaii expressed their desire to make the conference an annual event.