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.