Historic Ferry Could Become Idled
14 May 2013
By Liz Zemba
A Fayette County commissioner has proposed shutting down a
200-year-old ferryboat because its ridership numbers have dropped
by more than half since a bridge over the Monongahela River opened
Vincent Zapotosky on Tuesday said the Fredericktown Ferry costs
more money to operate than it generates in revenues through fares.
Controller Sean Lally said the ferry in 2012 posted a $44,678
loss. The $91,063 in fares it generated in 2009 fell to $38,219 in
2012. Fayette operates the ferry, but costs are split with
In addition, Fayette and Washington counties contribute a combined
$155,112 toward the ferry's $238,009 operating expenses in 2012.
On Tuesday, Zapotosky proposed sinking plans to spend as much as
$1 million to renovate the ferry in favor of shutting it down for
good on Sept. 3.
“It's an antiquated form of travel,” Zapotosky said, noting
average daily ridership has dropped from 247 to 90 since the
opening of the bridge on the Mon-Fayette Expressway.
“Do you provide a form of travel to 90 people that costs a lot of
money?” Zapotosky said. “The bottom line is, you have to stop the
The ferry shuttles pedestrians and vehicles between Fayette and
Washington counties. The two-minute trip costs 50 cents for
pedestrians and $2 per car, with higher rates for trucks and
The ferry runs from 6:15 a.m. to 9:45 p.m. weekdays and 6:15 a.m.
to 1:45 p.m. on Saturdays.
Zapotosky has proposed rescinding an earlier resolution that
called for renovating the ferry, with part of the cost to be
covered by a federal grant of up to $970,000 that was first made
available to the county in 2008 through the Port of Pittsburgh
Fayette and Washington would be required to split a 20 percent
match to the federal grant, with the amount to be determined by
the overall cost of the project. The cost to renovate the ferry
has been estimated at between $400,000 and $1 million, Zapotosky
Even if Fayette decided to go ahead with renovations to the ferry
instead of closing, the Port of Pittsburgh Commission likely would
re-evaluate its offer because it was made before the expressway
bridge was built, said James McCarville, the commission's
“With the analysis we did several years ago, at that time, we
thought it was a good project,” McCarville said. “We would have to
look at it again, because the Mon-Fayette Expressway has been
built, and that could change things.”
Zapotosky said the majority of ferryboat users work at the State
Correctional Institution at Fayette in Luzerne. He said absent the
ferry, they can take the expressway and bridge.
“The commute would be 10 to 12 miles farther on the expressway,”
Zapotosky said. “I know it's an inconvenience, but is it practical
any longer to operate a ferry?”
Larry Maggi, commissioner chairman in Washington County, did not
return a phone call seeking comment.
Fayette commissioners will discuss Zapotosky's proposals during
their regular monthly meeting at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Public
Service Building, 22 E. Main St., Uniontown.
Liz Zemba is a reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached
at 412-601-2166 or firstname.lastname@example.org.