By Sue Ellen Woodcock
This past weekend, the town ferry Valkyrie held an afternoon cruise, not a bad way to spend a fall day and get to see the USS Constitution.
The annual ferry report is also out, and showing a roller coaster of ticket sales from 2,295 in FY16 and ticket sales income of $19,306. In FY17 12,652 tickets were sold with an income of $104,455 and 8,015 tickets were sold so far in FY18 with an income of $56,671.
“I, as well as the prior town manager, feel a ferry service is not practical without subsidies,” Town Manager Terence Delehanty wrote in the report. “We have heard a lot of discussion about ferry services and subsidies at the State House, as well as references in the nautical periodicals that show a growing interest to subsidize ferry services.”
Delehanty added that he believes instead of using town resources to fund the ferry operations that the town should look to state or private subsidizes. in the first year of operation the town kicked in a subsidy of of $50,000. In FY17 the town kicked in $100,000 in subsidies and a $100,000 subsidy from the town and $150,000 from the state department of revenue.
The FY17 budget for the ferry was $392,350, and in FY18, the ferry budget was $419,000.
“I believe that instead of using town resources to fund ferry operations the town should look to the state or private industries for opportunities to subsidize operations,” he said.
In his summary findings. Delehanty said there is significant interest in water transit that connects the region, but there are several challenges and issues to address.
The following courses of action include, Obtain private enterprises to subsidize the ferry through private funds; have the state rep assist the town ferry to be subsidized by agencies, organizations or governmental entities or send out an RFP for the town ferry to be operated by a private company willing to pay the expenses of the ferry and ensure that Winthrop will receive commuting services and pleasure cruises similar to what was done this season.