A new study of San Francisco Bay Area passenger ferries finds that unless new passenger ferries using cleaner fuels or advanced emission control technologies are put in service, overall air quality in the region will suffer.
The study by a transportation technologies consortium notes that technologies capable of delivering reductions of 85 to 98 percent below EPA regulations affecting new ferries beginning in 2007 are needed to ensure that ferry commutes contribute less to regional pollution than on-land travel.
“This report found that ferries are not as clean as we thought but the good news is that the technology exists to make them cleaner,” said John Boesel, president of CALSTART, the consortium that conducted the study, entitled “Passenger Ferries, Air Quality, and Greenhouse Gases: Can System Expansion Result in Fewer Emissions in the San Francisco Bay Area?”
According to the consortium, existing technology required for on-road vehicles far surpasses what is currently required and used in the marine sector for ferries.
Under current regulations, emissions for new diesel engines in buses and heavy-duty on-road vehicles must be significantly reduced beginning in October, with further reductions set to take effect by 2007.
As a result, the report concludes that unless new ferries use advanced emission control technologies or natural gas engines that go well beyond the current EPA marine standards, they will be contributing to the region's air quality problems.
Boesel said passenger ferries must take advantage of clean fuels such as natural gas or advanced emission control technologies. He said, too, that the vehicles people drive to and from the ferry terminals contribute to air pollution tied to ferry travel.
The U.S. Department of Energy Brookhaven National Laboratory, the Department of Transportation Global Climate Change Task Force and the Gas Technology Institute financed the study.