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A specially constructed vessel to bring passengers and property across rivers and other bodies of water from one shoreline to another, making contact with a thoroughfare at each terminus. The landing place for a boat. A right or privilege to maintain a vessel upon a body of water in order to transport people and their vehicles across it in exchange for payment of a reasonable toll. Technically a ferry is considered a continuation of a highway from one side of the body of water that it passes over to the other.

The privilege of handling a ferry is called a franchise. A ferry franchise is a permit from the state to a specifically named individual giving that person the authority to operate a ferry. It is a general prerequisite to the lawful establishment of a public ferry. The operator of a ferry is not relieved of the duty to obtain a franchise by formation of a company, since the franchise becomes a contract between the owner and the state.

Usually the grant of a ferry franchise implicitly gives the recipient the power to collect tolls. Ferriage is the fare that the ferry operator may charge. The unauthorized establishment of another ferry within competing distance of an already existing one constitutes an infringement of the ferry franchise, even in the absence of physical interference.

A ferry franchise can be terminated either by expiration of its term or by revocation by the licensing authorities. It is generally subject to renewal, for which the original owner is usually given a preference.

A public ferry is for use by the public at large, whereas a private ferry is operated solely for the benefit of its proprietor.

The state has intrinsic authority to regulate and control ferries that operate within its borders. It may exercise such power by law or by contract with the operator. The state may regulate the transportation of dangerous articles, the nature and frequency of service, and the location of terminals. In addition, it may impose a license fee or tax on the operation of ferries within its boundaries.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


a legal right to charge for transporting passengers by boat. See REGALIA MINORA.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006
References in periodicals archive ?
Une source militaire responsable a affirme, hier jeudi, que la totalite des passagers qui etaient a bord du ferry-boat [beaucoup moins que]Biella[beaucoup plus grand que], ont ete sauves de l'incendie qui s'y etait declare, hier jeudi au matin, et sont arrives au port de Nouweib.
Stagecoach coach firm boss Ann Gloag, 56, collected The Highland Ferry-Boat for pounds 150,000 after outbidding dozens of telephone bidders at a public auction in Sotheby's .
The pool at Lina Apartments Korcula's bays are great for snorkelling The entrance to Korcula Old Town The island is reached from the mainland by ferry-boat Swim in the cool, clear water off the island's beaches...
The overcrowded Joola ferry-boat sank off the Gambian coast, leaving 399 people dead, after it capsized in a storm last week.
Summary: Tangier - Some 1,418 Moroccans living in Libya arrived, on Sunday at Tanger Med port, on board a Moroccan ferry-boat, put at their disposal upon the instructions of HM King Mohammed VI in view of the crisis in the country.