Continued interest in improving air quality in the United States along with renewed interest in the expansion of urban passenger ferry service has created concern about air pollution from ferry vessels. This paper presents a methodology for estimating the air pollution emissions from passenger ferries and the costs of emissions control strategies. The methodology is used to estimate the emissions and costs of retrofitting or re-powering ferries with seven technological options (combinations of propulsion and emission control systems) onto three vessels currently in service in San Francisco Bay. The technologies include improved engine design, cleaner fuels (including natural gas), and exhaust gas cleanup devices. The three vessels span a range of ages and technologies, from a 25-year-old monohull to a modern, high-speed catamaran built only four years ago. By looking at a range of technologies, vessel designs, and service conditions, a sense of the broader implications of controlling emissions from passenger ferries across a range of vessels and service profiles is provided. Tier 2-certified engines are the most cost-effective choice, but all options are cost-effective relative to other emission control strategies already in place in the transportation system.

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Document Type


Department, Program, or Center

Sustainability (GIS)


RIT – Main Campus