GALVESTON — The John W. Johnson, a $24 million ferry boat commissioned in 2011 by the state of Texas, operated for only 15 days during the first five months of the year, according to public records obtained last week by The Daily News.
That number is, by far, the fewest number of days of operation of any of the six boats that shuttle vehicles and people between the East End of Galveston Island and the Bolivar Peninsula.
Between Jan. 1 and May 31, the Johnson made 93 trips, according to records from the Texas Department of Transportation.
The next fewest trips by a single ferry boat was made by the Gibb Gilchrist, a boat built in 1973 that had previously been put into a backup role to serve on busy weekends and when other boats are undergoing repairs.
The Gilchrist made 723 trips between January and May.
The records indicate that the Johnson has not operated for more than four consecutive days since November 2013. None of the other five ferry boats had such a gap in service.
At its peak usage, the ferry service moves as many as 190,000 vehicles and 620,000 passengers per month across Galveston Bay. The 265-foot John W. Johnson has the capacity to carry 70 cars and as many as 500 passengers at a time.
The boat was christened in November 2011, but did not take its maiden voyage until August 2012 because of technology issues.
Just less than a week after its launch, the boat was removed from service because of problems with its engine.
The John W. Johnson was most recently taken out of service on May 11 to make repairs to electronics systems and generator controls. A Texas Department of Transportation spokesman said the ferry is expected to return to service in the near future after the U.S. Coast Guard conducts sea trials.
At a glance
John W. Johnson
Trips Per Month
The average number of trips per made by the five other ferry boats operated between Galveston Island and Bolivar Peninsula.
Johnson Other 5
June 348 286
July 431 315
August 628 260
September 655 190
October 304 249
November 247 243
December 22 283
January 0 286
February 0 266
March 1 310
April 63 296
May 29 347
SOURCE: Texas Department of Transportation