The ferry market remains virtually tied with the airline industry in the number of passengers carried annually, roughly 2.2 billion each. The global ferry market in 2012 is estimated to be worth over $15 billion, with the major operators accounting for $14.2 billion.
Average costs can vary widely, with Washington State Ferries reporting a cost of $10.08 per passenger while the worldwide average doubles that at $20.51.
Finally, an ever-increasing number of these passengers are classified as Walk Ons – passengers traveling without vehicles. Currently, they comprise nearly 30% of the world market.
The Global Ferry Fleet
As of January 1, 2012, the fleet consisted of 1,183 vessels of various sizes and capabilities. A primary distinction in capability can be found in whether the vessel carries both passengers and vehicles as opposed to passengers only, which we designate as Walk Ons (WO):
Walk On Only Vessels
Tend to be smaller, travel shorter routes, have no beds and carry no vehicles.
Passenger/Vehicle Vessels (RoRo Vessels)
Tend to be larger, travel longer distances, often have beds and carry cars, trucks and buses.
Generally speaking, shorter faster routes are growing in demand while longer routes are in decline, especially in light of transit times being doubled.
In the United States, over 100 million passengers a year take ferries located in 38 different states, mostly commuting to work and back. In many cases, there may be no other practical way to get there. Unfortunately, twenty percent of these ferries are over 40 years old. Another five percent are over 60.
Worldwide, the age of the global fleet averages 23.6 years, with North America second only to the Persian Gulf in vessels in need of replacement (as can be seen in the right).
Beside the fear of breaking down mid route, older vessels, like older autos, need more maintenance and often require hard if not impossible to find parts, driving up operating expenses while driving down profits.
Transit Times vs Pollution>
With virtually the world’s entire ferry fleet forced to switch from low sulfur fuel to diesel due to IMO efforts to curb pollution, the choice for operators is now one of raising fares or reducing transit speeds by half. Though average operating speeds were only 11mph to begin with, most companies have chosen to reduce this by half (5.5 mph), doubling transit times for commuters and tourists alike.
The Fast Ferry Segment
With 1,762 high speed ferries in service, 1,579 of them carry walk on passengers only. Walk on vessels tend to primarily serve as shuttle services in large cities, on rivers, in coastal operations marked by less infrastructure and for sightseeing.
Unfortunately, Shippax, the world authority on the ferry and cruise market, states that it has been impossible to determine the actual volume of passenger-only shuttles, but claims, “It is fair to say that the fast ferries carry quite a significant part of the passengers volume on the shuttle services where they are used.”
The report adds,”fast ferries are first and foremost ideally suitable for passengers traveling without their cars.” It also adds that, unlike the traditional ferry, helicopter and airline businesses, high speed ferries had no lives lost in 2010.
FAST FERRY MARKET : The High Speed Fleet
FAST FERRY MARKET : High Speed Fuel Efficiency
|Mode||Spd||Cap||MPH||Fuel (Hr)||MPG||Pax mpg|
|Monohull I||< 25kn||1,000||14.4||152||0.09||95|
|Monohull II||< 25kn||300||18||25||0.72||216|
While there are several types of “high speed” ferries in the market, only the catamaran segment has been expanding, going from 700 vessels in 2000 to 945 in 2012. Total current capacity measures 213,419 passengers and 11,356 cars.
With virtually the world’s entire ferry fleet forced to switch from low sulfur fuel to diesel due to IMO efforts to curb pollution, the dilemma for operators now is to raise fares or cut transit speeds by half.
WORLDWIDE FERRY MARKET 2010
|WORLDWIDE FERRIES||WALK-ON SEGMENT|
GLOBAL FERRY MARKET: Ferry Comparisons 2010
GLOBAL FERRY MARKET : By Region
|South East Asia||204||27|
GLOBAL FERRY MARKET
|Alaska Marine Highways||47,700,000|
|Eckero inc Berka||310,068,000||1,152|
|Gotland Rederi AB||267,300,000||415|
|Spirit of Tasmania||178,728,000||439|
|Washington State Ferries||320,000,000|
GLOBAL FERRY MARKET : # Routes By Distance
FAST FERRY MARKET : Major High Speed Operators
|Istanbul Deniz Otobusteri||1,038||6|
|Abu Dhabi Mar||606||3|
FAST FERRY MARKET : High Speed By Region
|South East Asia||9||737||6,388||38.3||9|