• Major Project

Ferry system electrification

Tokitae out on the harbor

Major Project overview

Washington State Ferries (WSF) will convert our ferry system, the largest in the country, to hybrid-electric power by 2040 following mandates from the Washington legislature and governor. Transitioning to a hybrid-electric fleet is necessary to reduce emissions, ensure resiliency, and reduce operations and maintenance costs.

As the biggest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions among Washington state agencies, WSF burns approximately nineteen million gallons of diesel fuel to support nearly twenty million passengers every year. This innovative electrification program will drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save millions in fuel costs.

Timeline overview


Major project status



$1.68 billion secured funding | $3.98 billion total estimated cost

Major project alerts

On May 30, 2024, WSF published Volumes I and II of an Invitation for Bid to build up to five new hybrid-electric 160-auto ferries. Additional details and a link to the documents are below.

WSF aspires to an emission-free ferry fleet by 2050. To get there, we will convert six existing vessels to hybrid-electric power, build 16 new hybrid-electric vessels and add shore charging to 16 terminals.

The Ferry System Electrification program is estimated to cost $3.98 billion, with $1.68 billion currently funded from grants, state, and federal funding. Much of this funding comes from two major Washington state initiatives, including $1.03 billion from Move Ahead Washington and $599 million from the Climate Commitment Act (CCA).

The CCA supports Washington’s climate action efforts by putting cap-and-invest dollars to work reducing climate pollution, creating jobs, and improving public health. Information about the CCA is available at www.climate.wa.gov The program's funding sources also include grants and federal funding.

Hybrid-electric new vessel procurement

In May 2024, WSF issued Volumes I and II of the Invitation for Bid (IFB) to build up to five new hybrid-electric 160-auto ferries, formerly referred to as HEOCs. Volumes I and II include bidder instructions, contract general terms and conditions, and prequalification requirements. Release of Volumes III-V of the IFB are anticipated in fall 2024. Want to learn more about this exciting milestone? Check out our WSDOT Blog.

160 auto-ferry system propulsion experts 

In July 2024, WSF announced the hiring of marine technology electrification experts ABB to support the design and construction of the five new hybrid-electric 160-auto ferries. ABB will provide a complete propulsion system design, oversee timely delivery of equipment and offer expertise in equipment installation and commissioning. 

Timing for new hybrid-electric vessels

There are four key reasons WSF can deliver hybrid-electric vessels faster than new diesel vessels:

  1. Legislative direction. In 2023, the Washington legislature passed EHB 1846 , a bill directing WSF to build five new hybrid-electric (battery/diesel) vessels. This bill also allows for a faster and more competitive process to select shipbuilders, including a nationwide invitation for bid and the potential for WSF to issue up to two-contracts at once. These contracting laws only apply to the construction of new hybrid-electric vessels. Diesel-only vessels would require new legislation during the 2025 session.
  2. Funding. The Legislature allocated nearly $1.3 billion specifically dedicated to the design and construction of new hybrid-electric vessels. To shift to diesel-only vessels would also require new legislation and direction to WSF to reallocate resources and staffing.
  3. Design. The design for the new hybrid-electric ferries is nearly complete. Olympic Class diesel ferries were constructed between 2014-2018. However, the propulsion and electrical system suppliers for those vessels are no longer in business. If directed to build new diesel-only ferries, WSF would need to contract for a new propulsion system, and then design a new vessel for that system – a process that could take over a year before even starting the process to select a shipbuilder.
  4. Contracting. We’ve already launched the search for shipbuilders to build five new hybrid-electric vessels. Through this contracting process, we expect two new hybrid-electric vessels to enter service in 2028 and an additional three vessels by 2030. The delays from design, funding, and legislation mean that the earliest a new diesel-only vessel could enter service would be 2030, two years after the first hybrid-electrics.

Vessel Charging System (VCS) procurement

WSF issued a Request for Information (RFI) on Feb. 7, 2024, to obtain industry feedback as we launch procurement of the vessel charging system (VCS) for the hybrid-electric fleet. We appreciate the interest and involvement from all respondents. To view a consolidated list of questions and answers, please visit WSF’s contracting website

Jumbo Mark II vessels

In August 2023, Washington State Ferries awarded Vigor Marine a contract of up to $150 million to convert the agency’s three largest ferries to hybrid electric power. The Jumbo Mark II vessels are the largest in WSF’s fleet and produce 26% of WSF’s total annual greenhouse gas emissions. They also serve the most densely populated urban areas in Central Sound. While converting the vessels to hybrid electric power, Vigor Marine will modernize the ship’s controls and other outdated systems. These updates will improve reliability and help ensure these 22-year-old ferries serve our communities for decades longer. In Sept. 2023, Vigor Marine started work on the Wenatchee.When the Wenatchee returns to service, the Tacomais slated for its mid-life updates and conversion. The Puyallupis expected to follow at the conclusion of work on the Tacoma.

Terminal electrification

WSF is in the process of planning and designing charging infrastructure at 16 of our ferry terminals. This effort begins with ensuring that each terminal will be able to secure sufficient energy through collaboration with local utilities.

In May 2023, WSF began a partnership with Puget Sound Energy to add medium voltage ferry charging capabilities to eight additional terminals, starting with Bainbridge Island. WSF and Seattle City Light signed a similar Memorandum of Understanding i n September 2022 to provide power to Colman Dock.

Additional resources

For a primer on WSF’s electrification efforts, please see this video:

For a more in-depth look at our ferry electrification efforts, watch the extended video.