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Open AccessArticle

Comparison of Ferry Boat and Highway Bridge Energy Use

Department of Civil Engineering and Construction Engineering Management, California State University, Long Beach, 1250 Bellflower Boulevard, Long Beach, CA 90840, USA
Energies 2011, 4(2), 239-253;
Received: 18 November 2010 / Revised: 15 January 2011 / Accepted: 20 January 2011 / Published: 27 January 2011
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy-Friendly Transportation)
Passenger ferries serve a variety of transport needs in the U.S., such as providing vital links across bodies of water, and supplementing highway bridges. In some cases in which there is a ferry connection but no bridge, a bridge would be impractical; in other cases, a bridge might be feasible. The paper compares the energy consumption of ferries and motor vehicles on bridges, to determine which link is more fuel efficient. One finding is that limited data are available on ferry boat fuel consumption: despite there being 208 ferry boat operators in the U.S. as of 2008, only eight were providing energy use data to the National Transit Database. Examinations of three of the systems found that the passenger-MPG of the ferries ranged from 2.61 to 14.00 (1.11 to 5.95 km/L), while that of the motor vehicles on adjacent highway bridge connections ranged from 25.34 to 32.45 (10.77 to 13.79 km/L). Data from the eight systems are used to develop a ferry MPG model. The model is used to show that the Ryer Island and Charles Hall Ferries are less fuel efficient than hypothetical bridges in those locations. The fuel efficiencies and consumptions of the ferries would equal those of motor vehicles on the bridges, however, if smaller vessels were used, and if the frequency of service was reduced. View Full-Text
Keywords: fuel efficiency; fuel consumption; ferry boats; highway vehicles; diesel fuel fuel efficiency; fuel consumption; ferry boats; highway vehicles; diesel fuel
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Cottrell, W.D. Comparison of Ferry Boat and Highway Bridge Energy Use. Energies 2011, 4, 239-253.

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