This past Tuesday, the non-profit , Friends of Frog Ferry, announced their pilot plan with the Willamette River Group to bring ferry service to the Portland area. I have to admit that when I read about the pilot plan I briefly wondered if I was reading an old article, as I felt like I had heard this news before. While I hadn’t heard of this particular plan, I have in fact read about the goals of the Friends of Frog Ferry Group years ago, as they have been advocating for a ferry service in Portland since 2017.
The announcement on Tuesday took place at Cathedral Park, the proposed site for this branch of the ferry service. This well-known Portland location was chosen as currently there are no public transportation systems in Cathedral Park, and close to 78% of its residents are commuting every day via car (this information was read in the Portland Business Journal and the percentage was supplied by Jennifer Vitello, the Cathedral Park Neighborhood Association Chair).
If the plan were to come to fruition, the ferry would connect commuters between Cathedral Park and RiverPlace, making the commute around 25 minutes. The hope is that this service, which could transport an estimated 1,000 commuters a day, will be able to launch by the summer or autumn of 2022. Friends of Frog Ferry have been working with the Washington-based boat manufacturer, All American Marine, to design the ferry. While the first ferry is anticipated to use renewable diesel, the goal is to create an all electric fleet.
As I continued to read about the project, my mind pondered a few questions. Is spending $40 million really worth service between Cathedral Park and Riverplace? Will people really use the service? As I explored more on the Friends of Frog Ferry site, I learned that the Cathedral Park to RiverPlace service is only a portion of what the non-profit is looking to establish. if you look at the animated map on their site, proposed stops include: Vancouver, Cathedral Park, the Convention Center, Salmon Street, RiverPlace, OMSI, Milwaukie, Lake Oswego, and Oregon City. If this were to launch, this affordable ferry service (at this point in time the proposed ticket prices are $3 each way) has the potential to create an impact on the way people in the Portland Metro Area travel. Granted, there is still the thought of, ok, once you get off of the ferry how close is your destination to the dock, but, it could open up more space on the freeways and provide people with a less stressful commute. I have to admit, having used the ferry service between Bremerton and Seattle, I enjoyed being able to sit and read a book on my way to where I needed to go.
As for money, the Oregon Department of Transportation has awarded the organization a $500,000 grant, and Friends of Frog Ferry are also partnering with the City of Portland to write a grant application for a $3.3 million grant provided by federal funding. The pilot project’s estimated costs are $9.4 million, the $40 million being the estimate for the full ferry service.
Would you commute by ferry if it was available? What stops on the proposed map would interest you the most?