The Galveston-Bolivar Ferry started service in 1930. The Texas Department of Transportation operates the ferry year round and it’s free to the public.
We spent some time with Captain Johnny Smith, he started out as a deck hand in 1989 and four years later he was a captain. Grab the kids, a camera and take the greatest free ride in Texas.
GCM: How did you get interested in this line of work?
Smith: In the summer of 1989 I took advantage of the great opportunities the Texas Department of Transportation had to offer and I like the work so much I decided to make a career out of working on the Ferry.
GCM: Why a ferryboat captain, why not a tug boat captain?
Smith: I enjoy working on inland vessels, this allows me to go home every day and spend time with my family and friends. If you work offshore then you’re gone a lot.
GCM: How long have you been a captain?
Smith: I’ve been a captain with TxDOT for 20 years.
GCM: What type of engines do you have in the current ferries now in service?
Smith: Currently there are two 12 cylinder engines that provide 1500 horsepower each. These modern boats have plenty of power and are fun to drive.
GCM: How long does it take to make the trip over to Bolivar?
Smith: A normal trip to Bolivar takes about 18 minutes. To make the trip to Bolivar and then back to Galveston takes about 50 minutes.
GCM: Where did you receive most of your training?
Smith: I received most of my on the job training with TxDOT and some offsite training with various schools in the area.
GCM: How many cars can you get on a ferry?
Smith: It takes approximately 65 cars to fill up the Ferry. That can vary with the addition of trailers and other work vehicles.
For more information on the Galveston-Bolivar Ferry go to the TxDOT web site www.txdot.gov