May 20, 2024
Annapolis, US 73 F

Routes Released for Potential Chesapeake Bay Passenger Ferry

Plans to introduce a passenger ferry service around the Chesapeake Bay are making significant progress. A recent update revealed a map outlining six primary and additional secondary proposed stops for the ferry service. This initiative, which began with a feasibility study in 2022, is a collaborative effort involving multiple Maryland counties including St. Mary’s, Anne Arundel, Calvert, Queen Anne’s, and Somerset. Each county has contributed $15,000 in matching funds for the study, overseen by Cambridge Systematics.

Green Dots = Proposed Initial Ports. Yellow Dots = Proposed Future Ports.

The proposed ferry routes include connections between key locations such as Annapolis, Baltimore, Rock Hall, Kent Narrows, St. Michaels, Matapeake, Chesapeake Beach, Solomons Island, Crisfield, Oxford, Easton, and Cambridge. The study, currently in its first phase and expected to be completed in the first half of 2024, focuses on a passenger-only leisure ferry service primarily targeting tourists. This approach leaves room for future expansion to include car ferries or commuter schedules once necessary infrastructure is established.

A standout feature of this project is the proposed use of an innovative ferry vessel designed by Swedish boat manufacturer Candela. The Candela P-12, a hydrofoiling “fast electric commuting vessel”, promises a unique and efficient maritime experience. It stands out with its ability to travel airborne over the water on three carbon fiber wings, significantly reducing energy consumption by 80%. The P-12 can carry 30 passengers, achieving a range of 40-50 nautical miles at a speed of 25 knots. This cutting-edge design was showcased at the Annapolis Powerboat Show, garnering interest and support from the ferry project partners.

The counties involved in the project view the ferry service as a potential catalyst for tourism and economic growth. By connecting various attractions and encouraging visitors to stay and dine locally, the ferry could significantly boost the local economy.

With a total study cost of $250,000, the project now moves into its second phase, which involves evaluating the feasibility of the proposed routes and tourist sites. This phase will include gathering feedback through the Chesapeake Bay Passenger Ferry Ridership Survey and conducting economic modeling. The final steps will involve identifying funding sources and potential partners, with the final report from Phase I due in June.

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