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The 6th Ferry Safety and Technology Conference has been held virtually this year.


Dear colleagues,

As I write this, COVID-19 has killed friends, disrupts our lives now and into the future, and threatens life and livelihood. The ferry sector has been hard hit, with many routes losing over 90% of their passengers due to non-essential worker lockdowns set to reduce the rate of spread.

The story of the ferry sector is one of resilience and resourcefulness as it prepares for resurgence. We have been surveying ferry systems around the world for how they are responding with new protocols. A summary of our findings in the form of a survey instrument is attached. There are numerous stories which we will report on: Most heart-warming and inspiring is the Seastreak NY/NJ fast ferry now providing all medical workers and first responders free passage.

Looking to the future, the Worldwide Ferry Safety Association yet again sponsors its annual international student design competition, this year for a RoPax ferry for Lake Victoria, a place with notorious virulent weather, killing over 3000 fishermen annually. The award winning student designers were to come and present at the Ferry Safety and Technology conference scheduled for April 2020 in New York City. Instead they prepared virtual presentations as did the moderator, Captain Nurur Rahman, WFSA Board member and one of the judges of the competition.

You can see video links and presentations on the conference page.

Kindly send questions at ferrysafety -at- for fielding to the relevant parties.

Hoping to see as many of you as possible, in person.

Warmest regards,

The mission of the Worldwide Ferry Safety Association (WFSA) is to reduce ferry fatalities and expand the use of safe ferries globally: WFSA is an action-oriented organization.


School children waiting to board ferry on Lake Toba in North Sumatra (June 2019).

Consult on Ferry Safety

With the World Bank in Indonesia. The World Bank Senior Transport Specialist, Elena Chesheva, invited WFSA for a mission June 17-26, 2019 to offer guidance on ferry safety in Indonesia with particular emphasis in Lake Toba, in northern Sumatra. Roberta Weisbrod and Captain Nurur Rahman represented WFSA; WFSA colleague and design competition judge, Aleik Nurwahyudy, from the Indonesia National Transport Safety Committee, was also a key part of the team. The team made site visits, interviewed ferry operators and government managers, and presented their recommendations to a meeting of key government officials, and prepared an in-depth written report.

Sponsor Design Competition for a Safe Affordable Ferry

The 7th International Design Competition is for a Lake Victoria RoPax ferry. Click here for more information about the 2020 competition. Please register on the competition site.

Convene Ferry Safety and Technology Conference

The 5th Annual Conference, which was held in Bangkok in February 2019, was a success on a number of counts, with 132 people from 17 nations; very high-level presentations on cutting-edge ferry safety activities from the World Bank, World Health Organization, IMO, and Department of Shipping in Bangladesh; innovations from Thailand; Training at Archipelago Ferries; and improvements in safety culture by Damen and FRS--among others. Stunning venues on the Chao Phraya that sparkled with exciting cultural activities made for great enjoyment. See the Conference 2019 page for more information.

Ferry Safety and Technology Conference 2020

The conference is scheduled for Spring 2020 in New York City. Planning activities are underway.

Maintain Ferry Fatality Database

WFSA continues to maintain a database with 25 data points for each fatal accident since the year 2000. In order to fully comprehend the information, the data is aggregated into causation trends, national trends, and more recently regional trends. The most important trends illustrated by the data are:

  • Improvements in ferry safety in the Philippines since 2010;
  • Improvements in Bangladesh ferry safety over the last three years;
  • Increasing reports of sudden hazardous weather particularly in Indonesia.
  • Lake Victoria as a ferry fatality hotspot, when aggregating data from Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya.

Undertake Needed Ferry Safety Technology Projects

Low-cost Automatic Weather Monitors for Ferries. Stay tuned for an announcement in the next few months.

Automatic Identification Systems (AIS) for Bangladesh Inland Waterways. WFSA has sought to advance implementation of IMO-mandated AIS through advocacy publications and presentations and has brokered implementation actions.  There is widespread recognition of the importance of implementing AIS on the inland waterways of Bangladesh, especially with the new Bangladesh-World Bank development project. Stay tuned for announcements.

Research and Publish Reports

Recent publications include:  

See the Reports page for additional articles about ferry safety issues.

Present at International Conferences

Getting the word out, learning about new advances, expanding the circle of interest in ferry safety, and learning who are the ardent and informed advocates happens at international conferences: 

WFSA was represented at the Search and Rescue Conference of the Pacific Nations (PACSAR) in Honolulu by Bruce Tweed, who distributed a fact sheet about how WFSA helps

Captain Nurur represented WFSA at the Singapore Safety@Sea Conference: Maritime Safety in the Digital Age August 28-30, 2019 with two presentations, “Technology and Ferry Safety” at the session on Technology Initiatives/Developments to Enhance Maritime Safety and “Ferry Safety in the Digital Age.” 

WFSA's Roberta Weisbrod and Professor George Berg of the University at Albany, SUNY, will make a presentation at the First International Conference on 3D Printing in Transportation November 19, 2019, in Washington DC at the National Academy of Science building. A copy of the presentation will be available after delivery.


The Worldwide Ferry Safety Association is a not-for-profit dedicated to bringing innovation in training methods, as well as use of technology to provide notification for sudden hazardous weather, curb overloading, and enhance marine rescue technology. We encourage innovative new ideas in ferry safety and design. To that end WFSA is sponsoring a design competition for safe affordable ferries. The competition is open for registration now. Those interested, please contact us at info at ferrysafety dot org.