The Portland nonprofit group Friends of Frog Ferry says it’s one step closer to bringing a river taxi service to the region, although the transit concept is still far from a sure thing — and it’s unclear whether the initial version of the proposed service route would include Vancouver.
Vancouver was initially envisioned as the northern terminus of the line, but the Portland Tribune reported in September that the city had been dropped from initial consideration. When asked on Monday, Friends of Frog Ferry founder Susan Bladholm indicated that the Vancouver stop’s status was still up in the air.
“If the Vancouver community wants us, we can create a stop there,” she wrote in an email. “If Vancouver isn’t ready for us when we launch, we can add them as a stop later.”
The group first unveiled its passenger ferry concept in November 2018, pitching it as a way to utilize the Willamette and Columbia rivers to help tackle the Portland region’s traffic congestion issues, inspired by river transit lines in other cities such as Seattle and Boston.
At a Tuesday morning press conference, the group announced that it had completed two of four planned feasibility studies for the project. It also secured funding for the third and fourth studies, on track to be completed in the summer and fall, respectively. The funding for the studies comes in the form of a $200,000 grant from the Oregon Department of Transportation plus another $40,000 from the Portland Bureau of Transportation.
The third study is intended to determine the scope and cost of the infrastructure upgrades that would be needed to launch the ferry service.
The Terminal 1 dock in Vancouver was listed as one of the ferry stops during the initial unveiling, giving commuters an alternative to the often jam-packed Interstate 5 route.
The plan later appeared to have been scaled back; the Portland Tribune reported in September that Friends of Frog Ferry had concerns about parking availability in Vancouver and had begun to eye a more limited route that would terminate in the St. Johns area of North Portland.
However, press releases sent out before Tuesday’s conference still referred to the ferry as serving the “Portland-Vancouver Metro Area,” and Bladholm indicated that the group still needed to gauge the city’s interest.