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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.


a legal right to charge for transporting passengers by boat. See REGALIA MINORA.
References in periodicals archive ?
Performers include The Staten Island Ferrymen, a super-group especially formed for the festival, comprising celebrated songwriter and former Liverpool Spinner Hughie Jones, Bob Conroy and Norm Pederson, of American sea song group Stout, and virtuoso bass player Dean Ravera, who performs with Northumbrian folk group The Unthanks.
Another well contested affair saw FC Pensby slump 2-1 at home to Mersey Ferries, goals from Dean Corris and Alan Cairns giving the Ferrymen their first win of the campaign.
Earlier this month, Clyde ferrymen went on 24-hour strike in another pay dispute.
Striking ferrymen last night thrashed out a deal with their bosses that will ease the plight of the fragile economies of the tourism-dependent islands.