The MBTA’s Fiscal Management Control Board will decide the future of three major ferry routes. They have postponed their vote from December 7th to either their December 14 meeting or a January meeting. Help to preserve the Boston Harbor Ferries!
What’s being proposed?
The MBTA staff recommendation is to eliminate all ferry service from Hull, Hingham, and Charlestown effective in March 2021. The proposal is part of the “Forging Ahead” plan. (see slides 22 – 26 for more information)
What can you do?
- Submit a comment letter or leave a voicemail directly with the FMCB by 10:00am Monday, December 7.
- Written comment can be submitted via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Voice message comment may be submitted by calling 857-368-1655 and leaving a message
- Join the community-led effort to Save the Ferry.
- Join the broader advocacy movement to remind the FMCB and the state legislature that Transit Is Essential (includes links to write directly to your legislators).
- Join the labor groups leading the charge to tell the FMCB that Public Transit Is a Public Good.
Why do we need ferries?
- Read our op-ed in Commonwealth that makes the case for ferries.
- For many residents of Hingham, Hull, and Charlestown, the public ferries provide a reliable way to get to work. Taking the ferry is their best or only option for travelling daily to downtown Boston.
- Ferries serve an important role in the tourist economy, especially in the summer, when people use them to travel to and explore waterfront communities around the Greater Boston area. The Charlestown ferry has become a major part of the Freedom Trail and USS Constitution experience.
- Ferries have contributed to better land use. The housing and businesses at Hewitt’s Cove in Hingham is a great example of transit oriented development that was built with an expectation that the ferry that has operated since 1975 will persist.
- Ferries provide jobs. Boston Harbor Cruises, Bay State Cruises, and other water transportation operators in the region employ hundreds of people who have specialized skills.
Why are they at risk today?
- All of the MBTA ferries were shut down on March 17, 2020 when the MBTA switched their entire system to a weekend schedule. Since there is no weekend ferry service in March, there were no ferry services until June 22. During that time, people gradually found alternative travel options and some riders had the option to work from home. Now, the low ridership is being used as a reason to cut ferry service even though most people who used the ferry in 2019 expect to be riding it in 2021.
- The MBTA says that they will bring back service when there is clear demand, but without any service, there will be no way to measure demand. A reliable forty-five year old travel option could be permanently eliminated and set the region back decades just as it is primed for growth.
What about other ferry services?
- Seasonal ferry service from Boston to Provincetown, Salem, Winthrop, and Quincy operated during the summer. Though they are closed for the winter, they are expected to resume service in 2021.
- Commuter ferry service connects Lovejoy Wharf next to North Station to Fan Pier in the Boston Seaport. The service will be suspended for the month of December but is expected to restart in 2021.
- Harbor Island ferry service to Spectacle Island operated from July – October 2020. Ferry service to Spectacle and other islands is expected to restart in 2021.