SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Savannah’s waterfront continues to grow on both sides of the river, especially with Plant Riverside nearing completion, and the development of the Eastern Wharf moving right along.
Increasing ridership was part of the pitch that got Chatham Area Transit a piece of a $32 million pie - about $1.3 million to be exact.
That roughly $1.3-million from the U.S.Department of Transportation will buy CAT a new, 149-seat vessel to join the fleet of four ferries that CAT already operates back and forth across the Savannah River.
Chatham Area Transit's program is one of nine projects in nine states to receive money from the Federal Transit Administration's Passenger Ferry Grant Program.
The City of Savannah has also committed a 20-percent local match to the federal grant dollars. With council’s approval, that will cover the remaining cost of the new ferry.
It’s the anticipated increase in yearly ridership to more than one million passenger trips a year that the new vessel will help handle.
“More special events they have over at the Westin, at the Trade Center, that increases the ridership, and events have been steadily increasing," said CAT Interim CEO, Michael Brown.
Baily Wood, Spokesman for the Federal Transit Administration, said, “The Savannah Belles Ferries are historic vessels on the Savannah River. It’s important that we support these vessels, as they are used by both commuters and tourists to get around Savannah."
“The second thing is Savannah is going through an impressive development boom, and there’s going to be an increased need and demand for this type of transportation,” Wood said.
The new ferry is expected to join CAT’s fleet and begin operating in late 2021.