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26 Part II: Characteristics of the U.S. Ferry System the requirements and objectives of security regulations. Chapter 5 discusses common security threats (including terrorist-related threats) to the USFS. Appendices provide further information of regulations, Maritime Security (MARSEC) levels, and glossaries of terms and acronyms. 1.3 Background Ferry operations begin at the terminal boundary. Depending on the facilities, tickets are sold either near the site boundary or, in some cases, on-board the vessel. For systems that accommo- date highway vehicles, vehicles are directed to a cargo loading area and may be driven onto the vessel by the passengers or by ferry personnel, depending on the particular system. Separate pas- senger waiting areas are often available at the terminal a short distance from the embarking area. After embarking, passengers are often free to move within passenger and vehicle cargo areas while the vessel is underway. Debarking procedures are generally similar to embarking. Ferry vessels vary greatly in size, design, and capacity. There are three basic types of ferry based on cargo types, as described below. Length and passenger capacity provided in these brief descriptions are based on information in the National Ferry Database.3 1. Passenger-only vessels--do not carry vehicles, with the possible exception of bicycles. These vessels may be 400 or more feet in length and carry up to 6,000 passengers. Their ser- vice is often fixed-route service, and trips are typically of short to moderate lengths. Some- times "water taxis" are distinguished as a separate group of vessels that are 65 feet or less in length, carry fewer than 150 passengers, and provide fixed-route and on-demand trips of short lengths. However, there is no formal regulatory or construction distinctions between "water taxis" and passenger-only ferries, and they are not distinguished in the National Ferry Database. 2. Roll-on/roll-off vessels--transport highway vehicles (i.e., automobile and sometimes semi- truck trailers) and passengers. They may be 400 feet or more in length and may carry up to 3,500 passengers. Their service is often fixed-route service, and trips are typically longer than passenger-only ferries. 3. Railroad carfloats--transport railroad cars and have railroad tracks on the deck. They may be 200 feet or more in length and may carry up to 300 passengers. In general, trips between route destinations can exceed 2 hours, but more often the average travel time for a route is between 11 and 30 minutes. There are typically intermodal transfers at or near ferry terminals, including park-and-ride lots, feeder bus service, roll-on/roll-off bus service (for auto ferries), and terminals located close to passenger rail service (as in New York and San Francisco). Ferries travel on waterways that may be intercoastal (i.e., along the coastline), intracoastal (i.e., lakes, rivers, bays, and sounds), or international (i.e., across international bound- aries). Ferries operate in urban, coastal, and rural regions: · Urban services provide trips within a metropolitan commuting area, with fixed or variable schedules. Often fixed frequency varies daily to accommodate commuters. Service includes point-to-point transit (e.g., across a harbor), linear service with multiple stops (e.g., along a waterfront), circulator service (e.g., fixed route but not fixed schedule), and water taxi service (e.g., fixed landings with passenger pickup on demand). · Coastal services provide intercity and interisland trips on salt water and large fresh water lakes. Travel times range from 1 hour to 1 day. Service frequency often ranges from daily to weekly and may vary seasonally. · Rural services provide transportation across rivers and lakes when the construction of bridges is not warranted. Typically, these routes are short, operate on demand, carry a limited num- ber of vehicles, and accommodate pedestrians and bicycles.
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Chapter 1: Introduction to USFS Characteristics 27 By law, ferries are considered fixed guideways. There are three different route designations commonly used within the ferry system. Fixed routes (also called closed-loop routes) have a fixed point designating their beginning and end. Each trip may take a slightly different course, but the beginning and end of the route are located at fixed points. Segmented routes (also called open- loop routes) are portions of a fixed route with multiple stops. Metropolitan routes serve metro- politan areas and carry the majority of the national ferry system passengers. In addition to the route designations, ferry services may be categorized as regular service or express service. Ferry services that generally operate during peak commuter hours by both demand and fixed-route service are considered express services. Currently, the majority of all ferry routes are considered essential service routes, meaning that there are no other modes of transportation available to the specific destination serviced. Such services are often considered the lifelines of island communities. Notes 1. U.S. Department of Transportation. Federal Highway Administration, Intermodal and Statewide Programs Division, National Ferry Study, National Ferry Database, December, 2000. 2. The National Strategy for the Physical Protection of Critical Infrastructures and Key Assets, February 2003. Available at: http://www.dhs.gov/interweb/assetlibrary/Physical_ Strategy.pdf. 3. U.S. Department of Transportation, ibid.