Washington State Ferries to convert to hybrid-electric

Awarded contract for converting Jumbo Mark II-class ferries, a big step toward sustainability

Washington State Ferries (WSF) has made a significant commitment to environmental sustainability. The largest ferry system in the U.S. has announced a landmark contract with Vigor, embarking on a progressive journey to convert its major vessels to hybrid-electric power. This transition is aligned with Washington’s goals to reduce emissions and foster a more sustainable future.

“This contract is a big step toward providing our ferry-served communities with better air quality and more sustainable service,”

Matt von Ruden, System Electrification Program Administrator.

A major milestone toward zero emissions

WSF is setting an example by aiming for zero emissions by 2050. Converting its largest ferries to hybrid-electric power will substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

WSF stands as the largest ferry system in the U.S., and it is the primary source of greenhouse gas emissions among Washington state agencies. Matt von Ruden, the System Electrification Program Administrator, emphasizes the focus on the major contributors to emissions, stating, “We’re targeting the largest emitters in our fleet initially, specifically the Jumbo Mark IIs, which account for 26% of our ferries’ greenhouse gas emissions. Once our terminals are electrified by 2026, we project that emissions from these three vessels will be reduced by approximately 95%.”

Vigor’s winning bid and commitment

With a winning bid of just over $150 million, Vigor has shown a strong alignment with WSF’s goals and values, cementing a partnership aimed at building a low-emission, sustainable future.

Impacts on the Jumbo Mark II-class ferries

The conversion project will not only implement hybrid-electric power but will also update aging propulsion system controls to extend the life of the vessels.

WSF’s broader electrification program

The conversion contract is part of WSF’s extensive electrification program, an ambitious initiative that includes the retrofitting of current diesel ferries, building new hybrid vessels, and adding charging capabilities to terminals. Further details are available in WSF’s Long Range Plan and on their Ferry System Electrification page.

Washington State Ferries 2040 Long Range Plan

Investment and state support

With over $1.34 billion received so far, WSF demonstrates the commitment at both the state and federal levels to tackle climate change by reducing transportation system emissions.

Details of the hybrid-electric conversion plan:

  • Retrofit six current diesel ferries to hybrid-electric
  • Build 16 new hybrid vessels
  • Retire 13 diesel ferries
  • Add charging power to 16 terminals
  • Start work in September 2023 on the first ferry
  • Option to convert a third vessel in 2025

Future of sustainability and innovation

The Washington State Ferries’ hybrid-electric conversion plan is more than just a technological shift; it represents a forward-thinking approach to maritime transportation, environment, and community well-being. The collaboration with Vigor underlines a shared vision of progress that embraces environmental stewardship, economic vitality, and technological innovation. Washington’s ferries are not only adapting to a changing climate but also shaping a legacy that harmonizes with the nature they traverse. For the latest service updates, you can track each ferry using the real-time map online.


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