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It has been proposed that ferries are somehow categorized according to their importance, so that only major routes show up in lower zoom levels. I am not sure this is needed, as I could imagine that non-car ferries or short ferry routes could automatically be suppressed by a renderer, but it should still be discussed. --spaetz 08:30, 3 May 2007 (BST)

Potential criteria for categorization could be: a subjective importance=1..5, boats/day, passengers/day, international traffic, … whatever.

Categorys are necessary! There are also small ferrys in small lakes and crossing a river...
We have also ferrys onli for passengers, for cars, for trucks, for trains.
We also have old spice-sailingroutes, best sailingroutes around the world, discovery routes, modern oiltanker routes, container-ship routes, etc.
We have also regatta-tracks like Americas-cup... --Markus 16:11, 19 July 2008 (UTC)
How about a tag like shedule=*. Possible values:
  • "continous" for no stop, back and forth. Nice in combination with duration=*
  • "signal" to operate some signal to hail the ferry when required.
  • "timetable". url=* to timetable.
  • etc.

Ferry Crossing Duration

For routing applications it would be helpful to know some information about either the speed of the ferry, or how long the ferry takes. A brief discussion on the mailing list indicated that simply knowing how long the ferry took was adequate.

I would propose therefore that duration=time_in_minutes be added to ferry routes (eg duration=30). Comments welcome. Dmgroom 23:38, 1 September 2008 (UTC)

Sounds very good. I agree. Gorm 12:58, 24 August 2009 (UTC)

Boarding Time

Duration should always be added to the ferry, the question came up (note 617171) if or if not the boarding time shall be added to the duration and if, the ones for cars or passengers. With the data being usually used for direction, I strongly recommend to always and require to add ferry times including the boarding time. It seems that ferries without duration are not calculated, such I recommend to change "highly recommended" to "required". OSM ccom (talk) 12:11, 23 November 2016 (UTC)

Connection Interval

What good is a ferry that takes only 2 minutes, if it goes once a day? We definitely need something to describe how often the ferry goes. Problem ist: some go once a day, others all ten minutes during rush-hour but less the other times of the day. Suggestions welcome!

How about a tag like interval=time_between_departures_in_minutes or alternatively departures=number_of_departures_per_day. Example: interval=30 duration=5
time_on=* and time_off=* might also be useful.
Is there any progress on defining a solution to this? Ferry timetables are usually set for a specific period (e.g. international routes routes tend to be multiple a day, daily, twice a week, etc for the summer season). The same is true for "commuter" style services. Something styled after opening_hours or service_times seems appropriate. --Dónal (talk) 14:19, 23 September 2020 (UTC)
The tag interval=* is now approved - "The key interval=* indicates the "interval", or "time between departures". --Jeisenbe (talk) 04:28, 24 September 2020 (UTC)

Ferry or boat? What is transported?

What exactly is a Ferry? A boat that goes regularly from one marina to another? Is a Ferry with a middle station still a ferry? And with more stations? And if its purpose is not arriving, but travelling? In Switzerland, we call this "Kursschiff", it is only for passengers, and its main purpose is enjoying the view and ride, maybe have a good meal. Not even bicycles are transported! Either we create a new "route=ship", or we introduce a tag to specify, what can be transported. Maybe we could use the motorcar/foot/bicycle/...=yes/no tags?

Sure, access tags are already used on ferries to enable routing. --Lulu-Ann 14:41, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
So you add motorcar/motorbike/...=yes/no to the relation or to the way? --RalpH himself 21:48, 27 March 2009 (UTC)
To the way. Try out [:] on ferries from time to time. It does not work now, but I guess it's planned. --Lulu-Ann 08:11, 31 March 2009 (UTC)
I'm missing in the main page how to tag railway - should there be a new entry - on its set to railway=ferry ( 6 entries globally, but it should be the other way around

Ferry stops

I am missing a link to ferry stops.

I just add the stop points to the route, and set role=stop (as with busses, trains etc.) RalpH himself 16:59, 21 March 2009 (UTC)
It shouldn't be stop, it should be stop_<number> (see Relation:route). So you know the order of stops. -- Skunk 17:55, 21 March 2009 (UTC)
If the stops are nodes of the way (and not next to it like the bus stops), it is obvious in which order the stops are - especially if there are only two of them. (Same argunemtation why numbering of stops is obsolete as with trains btw.) RalpH himself 15:08, 22 March 2009 (UTC)
With the new API 0.6 the numbering of stops is not needed any more as the relation can be ordered. See also: stop_area --Lulu-Ann 14:12, 23 April 2009 (UTC)

route=ferry + route=road?

Some places, at least in Norway, the ferries are part of the road network, a valid question is then, should the ferry route be imported into the road route? --Skippern 18:17, 15 April 2009 (UTC)

I guess the answer is simple: If the ferry is a part of the named, official route then add it. Else the route would be incorrect. --MarcusWolschon 06:33, 16 April 2009 (UTC)
Mateusz Konieczny (talk) 08:07, 19 June 2019 (UTC)

Type of ferry

Just type=* ?

Excellent question!
why restricting only to ferries and not defining a Tag:route=boat ? There exists routes inaccessible to ferries (or not used by them) that are still required for many types of boats (tankers, fishing boats, leisure boats) and sometimes as well mandatory to cross through a protected zone, or marked on maritime maps because they are the only safe way to pass some areas notably within straights. Other routes wmay be dangerous because there will be invisible cables, or sandbanks below the water that are not visible and that could damage the boats (incluing leisure boats).
For this reason, this tag should be generalized as route=boat (and not "maritime" because it should also include rivers, canals, straights entering a bay or in a ria which is a river valley but filled essentially with sea waters). Then we would use access=* for defining the restrictions.
The type of ferry is not very relevant for a route, except for a specific commercial line (but there may be multiple maritime lines using the same route), where as the route exists often for legal reasons and applies to various types of boats or transportation systems or activities)
What I need here is a tag that is similar to what streets/roads/highways are to land routes for transportation lines. May be "boatway=*" ? This type of way would then allow building transportation lines using route=* relations. Note that most canals are already boatways unless they are restricted by boat=no; rivers are also boatways by default, and streams are normally not. Seas and lakes are boatways in general throughout their surface, except in some protected areas where "boatways" will be needed. — Verdy_p (talk) 13:18, 29 April 2013 (UTC)
I don't sail, but there's seamark:type=recommended_track. From what I've encountered, route=ferry ways mostly are "for a specific commercial line"; indeed, several of them might pass a strait following the only safe route, but the part through the strait is a different feature. For the service a map user is seeking - to get from a shore to the other - the type is somewhat relevant, even if the routes were consistently tagged with suitable access tags; that is, which ferries can take hgv's onboard, which are foot only, or can you bring a bike, too. Alv (talk) 22:13, 29 April 2013 (UTC)

Motor Vehicles - Inheritance?

Does the tag motor_vehicle=yes automatically include i.e. motor_car, motorcycle, hgv? Or is it necessary to enter each individually? I've seen ferries with only motor_vehicle, with all or parts of them, I just added "motorcycle" as a type to the list. A clear note in the article may be helpful to avoid incorrect assumption either way. OSM ccom (talk) 21:47, 10 June 2017 (UTC)

Yes, Key:motor_vehicle=yes includes all types of motor_vehicles, including motorcycle. This means you don't have to state each type individually. --Hjart (talk) 07:44, 11 August 2017 (UTC)
Mateusz Konieczny (talk) 08:07, 19 June 2019 (UTC)


For small ferries, it can often be usefull to state their capacity (the number of cars/passengers it can (legally) hold). What would be the best way to do this? Also for some of the same small ferries it's recommended to always call them ahead of time to make reservations. How to indicate this? --Hjart (talk) 07:56, 11 August 2017 (UTC)

Relations doesn't work with routers

The routers OSRM & Graphhopper does not work with ferry routes tagged on relations, so for now, if we want routing via ferries to work correctly we need to avoid using relations. --Hjart (talk) 09:20, 5 June 2019 (UTC)

IMHO we should not change our tagging habits to better work with incomplete routing preprocessing. They should implement the use of relations, it is not rocket science. --Dieterdreist (talk) 09:22, 5 June 2019 (UTC)
A lot of our users depend on routing though and I don't think it's really realistic to let them down until the routers implement the use of relations. I think the better way is to encourage the routers to work with relations and only then start tagging ferry routes on relations. --Hjart (talk) 10:14, 5 June 2019 (UTC)
Martin, if it's not rocket science then surely you can supply patches. :) --Richard (talk) 14:14, 5 June 2019 (UTC)
It appears that if a ferry route is compliant with the PTv2 scheme, then OSRM & Graphhopper do actually work with ferry routes tagged on relations. See Rosslare-Pembroke or the Woolwich Ferry. --MacLondon (talk) 07:50, 31 August 2019 (UTC)

Marking ferry as free for certain classes of passengers.

For example is free for pedestrians and cyclists but paid for all other vehicles. I used toll=yes, toll:bicycle=no, toll:foot=no. Is there maybe a better way to tag this? Mateusz Konieczny (talk) 08:13, 19 June 2019 (UTC)

Equivalent found at - if noone protests I will document this style of tagging Mateusz Konieczny (talk) 08:15, 19 June 2019 (UTC)
It's been a while... I see no protests. :) --Dónal (talk) 10:50, 10 December 2020 (UTC)

Using route=ferry for roro lines

Are ferries only for passenger ships or could I use route=ferry + passenger=no for a route which is used only by  cargo ships? --Marcor (talk) 06:53, 17 July 2021 (UTC)

I answer myself: no, ferries are only for passengers as Ro-Ro ships routes, are not currently mapped. --Marcor (talk) 06:26, 10 August 2021 (UTC)

"How to map using a single way" improvement

Hello! The section “How to map using a single way” mentions that a pier may be between the coastal line and ferry terminal, but that’s not always the case since a pier could start on land, as described on the man_made=pier page. It also mentions to add a highway tag to the pier, but this isn’t ideal when the pier is modeled as an area, and would be best to have a separate feature modeled for the highway for routing purposes.

I propose to update the text to reflect this. Specifically, add “(which the initial section may be over land)” after “man_made=pier”, remove “which should be tagged with highway=*” and add “If the pier is modeled as a linear way, add a highway=* tag to the pier, and if the pier is modeled as an area, create a separate highway=* feature that connects the ferry terminal to the greater road network.” Let me know what you think. Thanks! --Awiseman (talk) 20:00, 13 January 2022 (UTC)

OK, going to update this as described --Awiseman (talk) 19:49, 26 January 2022 (UTC)