Boston Harbor Now Releases Business Plans for Two New Ferry Routes

 Boston Harbor Now, following a collaborative process with other stakeholders, this week released business plans to create pathways for two new ferry routes in Boston Harbor – including one that would stop in Charlestown.

The plans contain data and analysis and the conclusion that efforts should continue to identify champions and partners to initiate the two new routes:  the first – an “Inner Harbor Connector” serving Charlestown, Downtown Boston, East Boston, and the Seaport; and the second – a route to run between Quincy, Long Wharf in Downtown Boston and Columbia Point in Dorchester.

“As the waterfront continues to change dramatically, more frequent and robust water transportation will contribute a range of benefits around mobility, economic development, and resiliency,” said Kathy Abbott, president and CEO of Boston Harbor Now. “Ferries offer a regular way for people to experience the joy of being out on the water, creating a deeper sense of engagement and ownership of the Harbor. We hope these business plans provide fresh momentum to partners to collaborate on implementing new service.”

Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack added, “MassDOT appreciates the leadership role taken by Boston Harbor Now to explore additional water transportation options.  This report will help inform the work of our Water Transportation Advisory Council and advance conversations between non-profits, municipalities and the private sector.  We look forward to gauging the interest of potential private and public partners to identify funding for vessels, dock improvements and operating costs.”

Research and best practices show that any new ferry service must be developed with a solid business plan to be financially sustainable over time. Boston Harbor Now and project partners began a two-year process in 2017 by examining 30 potential dock sites in cities and towns around and beyond Boston Harbor, then they narrowed the list based on ridership demand, capital investment required, and available interested partners.

The final plans include detailed modeling that takes into account fixed capital costs, (for vessels and dock improvements), and variable operating costs, (including fuel and labor). The following information is a summary of the potential two routes:

“Inner Harbor Connector” route:

•Would link Charlestown, East Boston, and the Seaport via Downtown Boston with ferry terminals at Navy Yard Pier 4, Lewis Mall, Fan Pier, and Long Wharf

•Frequency modeled: every 15 minutes during peak commuting hours; every 20 minutes during non-peak hours. Service hours between 6:30 a.m. and 10 p.m.

•Fares: options modeled at $3.50 and $6.50

Quincy and Columbia Point Ferry to and from Boston:

•Would connect Squantum Point/Marina Bay in Quincy and Long Wharf in Downtown Boston with off-peak service to Fallon Pier at Columbia Point in Dorchester

•Frequency modeled: every 40 minutes during peak commuting hours; every 60 minutes during non-peak hours. Service hours between 6:30 a.m. and 10 p.m.

•Fares: options modeled at $6.50 and $10.

The business plans mention typical challenges for any new ferry service, including needing private and public funding options to close the gap between operating revenue and expenses, the need for ADA compliant docks, passenger boarding amenities, vessels to operate the service and the installation of safety equipment.

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