Behind the scenes, work continues on bringing Fast Ferry to Prince William County and other areas of the National Capital Region, which will expand transportation options for area commuters. Most recently, the Northern Virginia Regional Commission (NVRC) announced its intent to hire a consultant to engage in public outreach, perform an infrastructure gap analysis, prepare a scope of work for the next phase of study and assemble National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documentation. The analysis should conclude by the end of 2017.

The infrastructure gap analysis is expected to identify the shore-side infrastructure needed at selected sites (e.g., parking, transit connections) to support well-informed planning, policy and budgetary decisions for the future of commuter ferry passenger transportation in the National Capital Region (NCR).  Rather than compete with existing transit services, the ferry service would supplement commuter options such as Virginia Railway Express (VRE), Metro and buses. The analysis will include exploring what developments need to take place to make connections to various transit services practical for commuters.

Data collected will append information gathered during previous studies: A 2015 NVRC Market Analysis and the 2009 Prince William County Potomac River Commuter Ferry Service Study & Route Proving Exercise. Each of these studies demonstrated that a fast ferry would deliver a multitude of benefits to our region, including reducing:

  • Traffic congestion/commute times
  • Energy consumption
  • Usage of single occupancy vehicles (SOVs) along I-95, decreasing associated maintenance costs

Studies show that other benefits of an affordable and financially sustainable commuter ferry service will enhance security and livability through greater:

  • Access to recreation and tourist sites
  • Emergency preparedness capabilities with new evacuation routes offering resiliency for hazard events
  • Military and homeland security vessel shore side capacity for mobilizing military personnel and supplies

Additionally, this addition to the region’s multimodal transportation system is predicted to enhance connectivity, security and livability for the communities of the NCR. Preliminary studies indicate that the following sites are potential origin and destination points:

  • Virginia:  Woodbridge, Harbor Station, Belmont Bay, Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens, Town of Quantico, US Army Fort Belvoir and the Pentagon.
  • Maryland:  Naval Support Facility Indian Head and National Harbor/Gaylord
  • Washington: City-Owned docks near the Washington Nationals baseball stadium, National Mall, Georgetown Waterfront, Southwest, Anacostia Washington Navy Yard, Fort Leslie McNair and Joint Base Anacostia Bolling

It is anticipated that future studies will examine additional factors and impacts, such as economic development, operational developments, fact-based revenue and expense analysis and required organizational structure for implementation.


Discussion - 2 Comments
  1. Helen Burroughs

    May 09, 2017  at 8:35 pm

    What is being done about an amtrak stop going south at Belmont Bay?


  2. Don Carr

    May 09, 2017  at 8:35 pm

    Would really like to see this come to pass some day, in some form. But, seeing Fort Belvoir is still listed as a potential destination gives me pause. There are a great many considerations that are either discounted or not considered at all by those who believe all that’s really needed is a dock. Certainly a ferry commute would be pleasant enough. But as currently envisioned, even on a good-weather day, a ferry with all its requisite stops simply couldn’t be fast enough to be a practical means of daily commuting. Add to that the need to complete at least one additional leg (shuttle from dock to actual work site), and, it just seems a lot more work on the idea is necessary before commuters will find a commuter ferry worth using.

    On a personal note, back in 2009 I took a “demonstration ride” from Occoquan to Fort McNair. Along for the ride was Congressman Jim Moran, then-Fairfax Board Chairman Gerry Connolly, and, Col. Jerry Blixt, Fort Belvoir’s commander at the time. Owing to a bad storm the night before that left much tree and trash debris in a fast-moving current for the boat captain to zig-zag around, it took nearly two hours to arrive at a point near Fort Belvoir. Add to that the fact that the captain couldn’t pull in even close to where a dock would go (because of built-up bottom silt that remains a challenge today), and, well, the ride demonstrated everything against a ferry working for Fort Belvoir commuters. I believe many of the same issues would be of concern to commuters to at least some of the other destinations.


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