Last Tuesday afternoon, 400 East Boston residents took a seven minute trip on a ferry from Lewis Mall Dock to South Boston’s Fan Pier as part of an open house and informational event hosted by the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority (MCCA).
The event was to begin dialogue between the MCCA and the community for a pilot ferry service program the MCCA hopes to start running in September between Eastie and Southie.
“I think the open house was pretty successful,” said MCCA Director of Transportation Shannon McDermott. “We got over 700 people that RSVP that they were coming and right around 400 people actually attended the event. But it downpoured in the last hour so that may have kept some people from coming down.”
McDermott said the MCAA, which currently runs ferry service from the North End to Southie, wants to expand upon ferry service studies and gaps that have been published by organizations like Boston Harbor Now and be able to provide a different mode of transportation for Eastie and North Shore commuters.
“I think those studies were sort of the building blocks,” said McDermott. “Boston Harbor Now came out with a study and proposed a circulator route in the harbor with stops in East Boston. They never intended to actually run the service; they were just finding locations that they thought would be the most useful. Lewis Mall was one of those locations and so we looked at it and said, “You know there’s a need in East Boston’’. We already have a service up and running from the North End to the Seaport so wanted to see if we could extend it. This will be a separate route but as we continue to activate the waterway and if we’re lucky and this new route goes as well and we hope it does, then we’ll be able to continue adding dock locations around the harbor.”
The MCAA’s Director of Communications and External Relations Nate Little said last Tuesday’s open house was really an event to survey the community and gauge the interest of this sort of ferry activity in the neighborhood and what type of schedule would work best.
“So we are still finalizing the survey that we had put out and we were trying to gather some more survey results just to make sure that we’re on target with the timing,” said Little. “The difference between our North End to South Boston route and this route is there was a group of businesses that approached us and said we have a need to move our staff from point A to point B. They gave us the schedule they wanted us to run and we went and got boats and had at it. In the case of East Boston we got the boats and then we approached the community and asked what kind of ferry service can we provide?”
McDermott and Little said the MCCA is looking at a startup in September with ferry service running between Eastie and Southie Monday through Friday from 6:30 am to 10 am and then from 3 pm to 7 pm every half hour. The trip takes roughly seven minutes and would cost $5 one way.