This summer, the MBTA leveraged the technology of the m-Ticket app and customer demand for a single ticket that enabled adventures by train to offer $10 Commuter Rail weekend passes that are valid for unlimited Saturday and Sunday trips within a single weekend. It’s unlocked all sorts of local tourism options from beaches to festivals to historic sites for people who chose not to drive.
That same blend of leveraging technology and responding to customers has led to some small but significant improvements this summer across the many ferry services in Boston Harbor. Each little change unlocks increased access and new recreational opportunities on and across the water, particularly on weekends. Some of these improvements are utilizing new technology while others are solving logistical hurdles as operators, municipalities, state agencies, and nonprofits work together to improve service around the harbor.
After years of requests, the MBTA has increased weekend ferry service for Hull, including a 9:00 AM boat from Long Wharf that arrives at Pemberton Point at 9:25 AM to provide all day access to Nantasket Beach. The new ferry trips emerged from discussions about increasing tourism to Hull. On top of that, the town’s new Hull-O Trolley is scheduled to meet ferry passengers and to provide transit access to the town center and the beach. This increased mobility is great for passengers who do not bring bikes while also improving access through the town for residents and visitors.
Over in Winthrop, the launch of Lime’s new dockless bike share service provides ferry passengers with a new way to access the dock or arrive by boat and explore the town and Deer Island, enabling multimodal trips for more riders. Winthrop’s ferry service has also begun offering round trip ferry rides to Spectacle Island from their town dock and Quincy’s Squantum Point pier on Saturdays. This service will continue to through October 6th.
Finally, for people who rely on Google maps to provide them with directions, they can now find their way out to the Harbor Islands using the app or website. Thanks to a partnership between the Volpe Center, the National Park Service, and Boston Harbor Now, the Harbor Islands ferry services have been incorporated to allow users to digitally plan a trip to Spectacle, Georges, Peddocks, Lovells, Grape, and Bumpkin Islands. The development of a GTFS feed now allows any app linked to the data to reflect all of the water transportation options available on a given day.
Before the summer’s over, make sure to get on a ferry and experience Boston’s Harbor. Check out one of these ferry improvements or visit Salem, Hingham, or Provincetown by boat!