Proposed features/ferry

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Ferry Classification
Proposal status: Draft (under way)
Proposed by: steinarh
Tagging: ferry=*

Rendered as: variations over route=ferry
Drafted on: 2011-03-09


There are many different kinds of ferries:

  • Ferries being an integral part of the highway system
  • Cruiseferries
  • High speed catamarans and hydrofoils
  • local passenger ferries in harbors
  • tourist routes

Currently all these are rendered as the same, even if they are very different with regards to:

  • What zoom levels they are relevant to
  • What kinds of traffic they can be expected to serve (passengers/bicycles
  • How often departures are (every 10 minutes to daily)
  • How quick boarding and disembarking times are

In a busy harbor there may be a spaghetti bundle of ferry routes.


The ferry tag should be used in combination with route=ferry.

highway ferries

For highway ferries, the ferry tag should refer to the value of the highway=* tag. These ferries should also have the ref=* tag of the highway it's a part of. The waiting area for a ferry may be signposted by the highway reference.

ferry=trunk ref=7

ferry=primary ref=*

A highway ferry is by default assumed to allow most kinds of traffic motor_vehicle=yes bicycle=yes foot=yes

cruise ships, cruise ferries, express boats

An express boat is a quick ferry, integral to the public transport system. ferry=express_boat Assumed motor_vehicle=no bicycle=no foot=yes

A cruise ferry is a large ferry, not an integral part of the highway system, transporting motor_vehicles and with passenger services similar to a cruise ship. ferry=cruice_ferry Assumed motor_vehicle=yes bicycle=yes foot=yes. These are normally operated by private companies.

A cruise ship route should only be tagged if it has regular departures and can be ticketed from port to port like a train or bus. Assumed motor_vehicle=no bicycle=no foot=yes unless otherwise specified.

local passenger services and tourist services

ferry=local A local ferry is a small boat, carrying passengers in an urban area, across a harbor, bay or lake. It may or may not allow access by the urban ticketing system.

ferry=tourist A tourist boat is sailing a route allowing tourist a view of popular sights from the waterfront.

motor_vehicle=no bicycle=no foot=yes is assumed for these.


ferry=User defined for classes not covered here.

Suggested Rendering

highway ferries should be visible at the same zoom level as the appropriate highway class. Reference should be visible, and rendered like the highway.

cruise ferries should be shown with a ticker like than highway ferries and local/tourist ferries.

local/tourist ferries should be rendered by a thinner line than cruise/highway ferries and be visible only in local renderings.


(move access assumptions here)

Routing algorithms should add an appropriate boarding/disembarking penalty for the combination of ferry=* class and transport method (car, foot...).

Routing algorithms should assume a reasonable speed for the ferry, unless a speed or transit time is given. (For most ferries in the ballpark of 25km/h, express boats may average at 3 times as fast. Local and tourist boats may be slower.)


use Talk:Proposed_features/ferry