BIZ MODEL OFFERED FOR INNER HARBOR FERRY SERVICE
By Colin A. Young
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, APRIL 23, 2019.....With the highways and public transit options around Boston perpetually congested, a new study funded in part by the state details potential new ferry routes to connect downtown Boston with other inner harbor points, Columbia Point and Squantum Point in Quincy.
Boston Harbor Now, formed in 2016 following the merger of the Boston Harbor Association and the Boston Harbor Island Alliance, said development along the waterfront in Boston and Quincy has and will continue to increase the demand for more and better transportation options. At the same time, improvements to docks at Columbia Point have made it possible to link institutions on that peninsula -- like UMass Boston -- to ferry service.
"Providing effective, reliable, affordable, and accessible scheduled water transportation connections between Quincy, Columbia Point, and downtown Boston contributes a range of social benefits. Passengers have direct benefits, including quality of life improvements from a new mobility option. There are also indirect benefits to the broader transportation system, the environment, and economic development," the group wrote in its business plan for the new ferry service. "The system will serve residents and workers, increase access to recreation and leisure destinations, and has the potential to provide resiliency and redundancy in case of an emergency."
Boston Harbor Now's plan is built around service that would connect Long Wharf North with Squantum Point/Marina Bay, with midday and weekend connections to Columbia Point at Fallon Pier, on the north side of the peninsula.
Using two leased vessels, service would run from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays, with ferries departing from each Quincy and Long Wharf every 40 minutes during peak commuting hours (6:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.) and every 60 minutes during off-peak hours. Ferries would depart every 60 minutes on weekends.
The group said it modeled its service assuming annual ridership levels ranging between 190,000 passengers for weekend service to 412,000 passengers for weekday service, and with fare options of both $6.50 and $10 per trip.
Boston Harbor Now said it looked at data from the MBTA's current ferry services to help model its proposed service. The price of a standard one-way ticket for the MBTA's Hingham/Hull to Long Wharf/Rowes Wharf service is $9.25 and in 2016 those ferries shuttled a combined 1,164,896 passengers, according to Boston Harbor Now. The group said its service, like others, would not turn a profit.
"Like many transit systems, the new Quincy and Columbia Point service is projected to have an operating shortfall," the group wrote. "Whether it is operated by the public sector, the private sector, or as a public-private partnership, an operating subsidy would be needed to sustain the service at any of the price points studied based on the projected ridership."
The plan does not detail who would operate the service or how it would be implemented.
Boston Harbor Now wrote that the plan should serve "to provide an economically sustainable model for the development of new ferry service" and that its partners -- which included the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and the Massachusetts Port Authority -- are "committed to partnering with stakeholders who want to implement the new service."
"At present, there is no state agency or operator designated for implementation of this route. Boston Harbor Now plans to remain involved in facilitating the implementation of this route," the plan states. "MassDOT and Massport are interested in partnering with other state agencies, municipalities, and the private sector to realize this vision."
On Tuesday afternoon, Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack is scheduled to give opening remarks at Boston Harbor Now's official release of its ferry service business plan. MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board member Monica Tibbits-Nutt will then moderate a panel discussion about implementation of the plan.
Boat tours of the proposed service routes and docking facilities scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday have sold out, Boston Harbor Now said.
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