• The Diesel Technology Forum

New Staten Island ferries to provide efficient, near-zero emissions passenger service


Photo: Diesel Technology Forum

The announcement of three new Ollis Class passenger ferries connecting Staten Island with Manhattan brings the latest in efficient and clean public transportation options to New Yorkers, as these vessels are powered by the fourth and newest generation of advanced technology diesel engines, according to the Diesel Technology Forum.


“Reliable, efficient and affordable service is the primary mission of every public transportation agency,” said Allen Schaeffer, DTF executive director. “The New York City Department of Transportation is making smart technology investments ensuring that the new vessels meet their power, performance and reliability that are required for this workhorse fleet. The newest generation of diesel technology achieving near-zero emissions delivers on all accounts, while also generating significant clean air benefits for passengers and terminal communities.”


Image: Diesel Technology Forum

Diesel technology powers the overwhelming majority of passenger ferries, both large and small, according to the most recent census of ferry operators compiled by the U.S. Department of Transportation. These new vessels in New York are capable of moving 4,500 passengers.


“The engines going into service for NYCDOT are fourth generation advanced diesel engines—Tier 4—that achieve near-zero emissions, manufactured by industry leader Electro-Motive Diesel, and will generate significant clean air benefits for New York City residents,” Schaeffer said. “Recent research concludes that relative to older engines developed before emission controls were required, the new technology engines can reduce emissions equivalent to taking nearly 50,000 cars off the road for a year.”


Schaeffer added that engine and equipment makers are building on the clean air benefits of the latest Tier 4 engine technology with complementary solutions, such as hybrids and renewable fuel use that can further reduce the carbon footprint of ferry operations. The Red and White fleet operator of ferries in service across the country introduced the first diesel electric hybrid ferry, the Enhydra, in 2018 to reduce emissions and save fuel. The Enhydra was named Boat of the Year by Workboat Magazine, coupling advanced technology diesel engines developed by engine leader MTU with battery backup capabilities to cut fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent.


Image: Diesel Technology Forum

Diesel engines old and new are capable of operating on advanced biofuels including renewable diesel fuel and blends of biodiesel and have been shown to reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly. According to recent data published by the California Air Resources Board, the use of biodiesel and renewable diesel fuel has eliminated the most greenhouse gas emissions from transportation and mobile sources in California, exceeding that reduced by ethanol and the electrification of cars, trucks and buses. In 2018, all passenger ferry operators in the San Francisco Bay Area announced their switch to operate using 100 percent renewable diesel fuel to eliminate 22,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year.


“New York City made a wise investment in proven, efficient and reliable vessel power for the Staten Island Ferry that ensures outstanding service life and measurable and immediate clean air benefits for residents and passengers alike,” Schaeffer said.

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