How to tag "access roads" to public ferries?

How should “access roads” to main public ferries be tagged?
I mean ferries that connect public main roads on both sides.

Look at the history of this road! :frowning:

It had been “primary” until, a month ago, someone changed it to “service=driveway”
See also robin’s comment to the changeset here. Kurviger reroutes to avoid ferry - #7 by boldtrn

Two days ago I changed it back to “primary” inspired by the tagging on the other side of the ferry
… just to realize that @Patrick changed it again to “service”

Now I am completely confused.
I searched the OSM wiki, but could not find a clear answer.

That’s odd. The other ferry route (Coupeville-Port Townsend) discussed in the same thread was fixed by Patrick. Would looking at those ferry docks or terminals in OSM give a hint as to how the broken side of the Mukilteo-Clinton ferry should work? Only the Mukilteo side acts funny, the Clinton side works fine.

I do think, that highway primary would be correct in this case. Tag:highway=primary - OpenStreetMap Wiki

I think it doesn’t really matter if the road is used to access the ferry or not. If the road qualifies the spec from the OSM wiki:

Use highway=primary to tag a major highway linking large towns, but which does not satisfy the performance requirements of a highway=motorway and does not qualify to be highway=trunk. Primary highways are generally specified by country road classification bylaws and assigned a ref=reference name.

As far as I understand, the ferry and the accessing roads to and from the ferry are all part of the road network WA525 . Therefore, I would argue that the ways leading from and and to the ferry should be highway primary as well.


That is exactly the spec I read which made me think this is not a primary road. I don’t usually care too deeply about one way or the other but in this case I think highway=service is correct. Let me argue my case

@linux-user in your first post you mix two separate things, service=driveway is independant from the highway=xy declaration. I think firstly we can all agree that service=driveway was completely wrong

So now coming back to highway=xy. I did extensive checks on other ferries in Germany and other countries. I think that highway=service with service=xy not set at all is the best practice actually for this case. The road is exclusively used for a service - getting you to a ferry - and it does not connect any towns in an way.
See examples

That is also why I left the exit on highway=primary, because it actually does what a primary highway does, it gets you to the big road toward the next town. Debatable maybe. Lemme know

But not the entry road you reference here, I’m pretty sure that is a highway=service


No worres gharper, we’re not talking about making it passable for Kurviger anymore, that should be fixed now either way, some other things were broken :slight_smile: We’re now just nerding out about properly mapping in OSM :slight_smile:

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I am not sure if these are similar types of ferries. The way I understand the ferry here is that this ferry is part of the regular road network. Similar to how many ferries in Norway work.

If you look at these ferries in Norway, they have the highway drawn up to the dock. For example:

The ferries you linked are sort of pre book ferries for a special transport and are not ferries that you would expect to be used on a daily basis by people living in the area.

That’s my argument why I believe it should be primary and not service. But I fully agree, this is not a clear cut case, I don’t think there is necessarily a right or wrong here.


In the US the ferries in the state of Washington are part of the Washington State Department of Transportation. They are considered highways here. When you are in line to buy a ticket, in the waiting area, or on the ferry, you are on a Washington state highway.


For anyone who has missed it, here is the related thread in the OpenStreetMap forum: How to tag “access roads” to public ferries - United States - OpenStreetMap Community Forum


Just for my information: why do those tags have any importance ?
(I am not criticising, just trying to understand why that matters, and why it is discussed on Kurviger)

Because some routers consider this tags (that is the intention of those tags).
And e.g. Kurviger shows roads tagged with highway = service, service = driveway as potentially blocked:

So correct tagging is important for several routers.