Project is ready to shove off

Winthrop residents may soon be able to avoid rush hour traffic by taking a ferry ride to and from Boston.

Paul Rupp, consultant to the town for the ferry project, held a pre-bid meeting Wednesday to explain the process to potential ferry operators. The bidding process will continue to a tentative deadline of May 26, 2010.

“We’re expecting at least a couple of bidders,” said Rupp. “The company [who receives the job] will come in with a boat and run a demonstration to gauge what the demand is going to be for a permanent service.”

U.S. Congressman Edward J. Markey has secured a $950,000 grant for the permanent ferry, which is the next step following the demonstration phase. The permanent ferry would likely begin operating in the spring of 2011.

The ferry, which will be able to accommodate 100 passengers, would leave the Winthrop Public Landing and travel on a 25-minute route to Boston. “The town has specified that it wants the ferry to run to the financial district – to Rowes Wharf or Long Wharf,” said Rupp. “The ferry is mainly aimed at commuters but it’s open to anyone. The fare will be no more than $6 each way – which is what the ferries in the Hingham, Hull, and Quincy charge.”

Rupp is hopeful that ferry service will start no later than July 1.

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