Letter to the Editor

Thursday, December 14, 2017
By Transcript Staff

The Ferry, Stop the Bleeding

Dear Editor,

I noted in Mr. McKenna’s exit article that he stated that the ferry “is almost breaking even”. What does that mean exactly? My understanding is that the Town, as of last summer, has spent over $240,000 to keep the ferry operating. If it keeps operating at a loss then there is no end in sight. Mr. McKenna’s implication that we need to be patient and the rider ship will grow so that the ferry will pay for itself is ludicrous. The Hingham ferries carry between 4,000 and 5,000 riders a day and still require State funding to make them affordable for people to use. This service has been operating for decades. Again, the South Shore commute is far worse than from Winthrop, so these ferries make sense. Ours does not and never will no matter how patient we are. By the way, the South shore cities and towns that use that ferry service do not have to put any municipal money in and do not own the boats. They are all state funded as a solution to crowded roadways. We will never get that state funding even with Rep. Deleo, one of the most powerful people in the state, because it does not make sense and the numbers don’t work.

The revenue may look a little better this year, although still operating at a loss. That number in part being reflective of the revenue from Tall Ships. That event will not repeat for many years, and is not something that should be even looked at when reviewing the real cost of operating this ferry.

I have heard talk of a potential new contract to help support the ferry. There is nothing out there that will provide enough revenue and still allow the town to have a schedule that would attract local riders, we saw that in the failed Quincy trial. Yes, more revenue from Quincy, but less from Winthrop as the schedule was far less attractive for Winthrop riders. Why should the taxpayers of this town fund something that provides minimal benefit to them?

I noted the new fall schedule in the paper that has the ferry operating until the end of November. The daily cost to the town to operate the ferry is high, the cost to maintain the ferry is also high. The rider ship is minimal and can in no way support the operation or maintenance of the ferry. The more you run it the more it costs to maintain. There are a lot of hours being put on for very little revenue being collected, that will catch up for sure.

Mr. Vecchia stated, during the debate, that we should add a trolley to bring people to the Center and maybe a second ferry. Please! More ideas that will just cost our Town revenue that will never provide a return on investment. Money we cannot afford to waste.

So, I implore the acting Town Manager and the new Council to do a deep review of the real operating costs to run this boat. What I am sure will be seen is a large cost to the Town. We must not operate the ferry in 2018 and need to stop the bleeding. We are wasting money that will never be recovered. By the way, the grant was over $900,000 in federal tax-payer dollars. Well over 1 Million in tax payer dollars wasted, no wonder we are in debt as a country. Money that has been wasted on an idea that never had a chance at being successful.

Please put that money in to the continued beautification and upgrade of our town where it absolutely pays dividends.


Fred Loomis

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