Can the MBTA Continue to Name Ferries in Honor of Donald McKay and Not Have a Real Stop in Eastie?

By John Lynds

East Boston residents have been clamoring for a full service ferry for years. City Councilor Sal LaMattina has worked to bring a ferry to the neighborhood that will include stops in Eastie, Charlestown, the North End and the Seaport District, but that plan has stalled.

There is one ferry operating between Eastie and Charlestown thanks to the Reel House Restaurant on New Street, but you have to be a patron of the Reel House or its sister restaurant, Pier Six in Charlestown, to get that service.

So it was a little insulting to Eastie residents when the MBTA announced last week it has added a brand new catamaran ferry, the Champion, named after Donald McKay’s Champion of the Seas clipper that set a record for the fastest day’s run in 24 hours in 1854.

“With the original Champion of the Seas designed in East Boston, the MBTA’s new Champion honors this idea as the new ferry will service the same community,” said the MBTA in its release announcing the addition of the Champion. “McKay also designed clippers named the Flying Cloud and the Lightning, which have also been used to name MBTA vessels. A second brand new catamaran ferry will be coming into service at the end of the year named Glory to continue honoring McKay’s legacy and the design of his Glory of the Seas clipper. The cost of each new vessel is approximately $5.7 million per boat supported with federal funds.”

The press release goes on to say that the Champion will stop at ‘Logan Airport in East Boston’.

The ferry does not serve Eastie and its residents, but is geared towards the flying public getting off at Logan and wanting to take a scenic trip across the Boston Harbor to their final destination downtown. They are not coming to Eastie, spending money in Eastie or frequenting Eastie’s restaurants or shops, so why pretend it is an Eastie ferry stop.

It isn’t! It’s a Logan Airport ferry stop plain and simple.

Does the T’s top brass have any idea how inconvenient it is for your average Eastie resident to schlep all the way down the Harborwalk to the backside of the Hyatt Boston Harbor and catch a ferry?

Maybe the T can rename these high speed ferries something else.

Or better yet make a real ferry stop in Eastie for real Eastie residents trying to get downtown…god knows we can barely drive there anymore after the Sumner Tunnel toll plaza redesign fiasco that’s ongoing.

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