If its free, it’s for you! – Ferry demonstration to kick-off with free rides to Boston Thursday and Friday

The planned ferry demonstration set to launch next Monday, August 2, will get a bit of an early start this week, as ferry service provider Boston Harbor Cruises begins operating three morning and three afternoon round trips to Boston for free on Thursday and Friday.

“The boat operator is offering two days of free trips to try and get people to try it,” explained Paul Rupp, a community and economic development consultant hired by Winthrop to help attract a ferry boat operator to the town. “Paid service will begin next week, on Monday, August 2 and continue for about three months, until the end of October.”

According to Rupp, the paid commuter ferry service will run Monday through Friday beginning next week, at a cost of $6 per person for a one way, rush hour trip to Boston. The boat operator, Boston Harbor Cruises will make three morning trips and three afternoon trips and will offer a discount rate through a package of ten trips for just $54.

“Boston Harbor Cruises is the largest ferry service operator in Massachusetts and the second largest water transportation service in the country,” said Rupp. “We are very lucky that they seem to feel there is a real opportunity for a successful ferry service operating out of Winthrop.”

The one way trip to Boston, or back, will take 25 minutes and Boston Harbor Cruises will be assigning its boat MV Anna, a 149 passenger ferry boat, to the route compleyte with a snack bar on board the vessel.

Congressman Edward Markey was responsible for obtaining the federal grant that will allow the ferry boat demonstration service to the town, and aid local officials in making informed decisions about how best to offer ferry service to Winthrop and North Shore area commuters permanently.

Earlier attempts to attract a ferry boat operator for commuter service to Boston and back failed to attract acceptable bids, because operators had been concerned about taking on the risk associated with operating a commuter boat when logistical issues, such as the size of the boat that would be needed and what the average ridership levels would be, were unavailable. Through the three-month demonstration, town officials, and boat operators, will be able to gauge actual interest in commuter boat service from Winthrop and thus they expect to be able to formulate a plan for offering either permanent seasonal or year-round service.

“Folks in Winthrop have been working to bring a commuter boat service to town for a long time and in my time working to make this happen, we’ve heard from hundreds of people who have told us they wished a ferry service was available from Winthrop,” explained Rupp. “Well, this is their chance. If people really want to have the option of taking a ferry to Boston, rather than sit in traffic or on a bus or subway, they need to take advantage of this demonstration and show ferry operators that they are willing to pay for a quick, convenient boat ride into the city.”

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