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Nonprofit floats details about new proposed Boston Harbor ferry routes

Nicholas Pfosi for The Boston Globe

The business plans for two new Boston Harbor ferry routes are done. Now comes the hard part: finding someone willing to secure and administer these boats, and finding potential subsidies to offset the costs.

Boston Harbor Now has been working on the routes for essentially two years, buoyed by grants from different state agencies and some private-sector sources totaling $650,000. The organization started with 30 potential dock sites, and narrowed the list based on potential ridership demand, existing dock conditions, and other factors.

The nature of the routes — one involving an Inner Harbor “circulator” and another that would stretch from Quincy to downtown — have been previously reported. But the reports released on Tuesday offer new details about projected demand, potential expenses, fares, and other logistics.


Alice Brown, Boston Harbor Now’s point person on ferry issues, said her group will now work to find and connect public agencies willing to be responsible for the routes and potential funding sources for operating subsidies and capital costs such as boats and docks. Boston Harbor Now is timing the release of the business plans to coincide with events in Boston and Quincy on Tuesday and Wednesday to highlight the routes and the benefits of ferry commuting.

Quincy and Columbia Point: This route would connect Squantum Point Park in Quincy with Boston’s Long Wharf, with potential midday and weekend service to Fallon Pier on Columbia Point (behind the JFK Library). The route would likely replace existing seasonal service offered by the town of Winthrop, in which its ferry makes some stops in Quincy. The modeling assumes departures every 40 minutes during rush hour, and every 60 minutes during off-peak times and weekends. Financial plans were developed based on a $6.50 fare, and a $10 fare. Projected annual ridership totals between 190,000 and 412,000 a year.


Inner Harbor: This route would expand the MBTA’s existing Charlestown-Long Wharf ferry route to include stops at Fan Pier on the South Boston Waterfront and Lewis Mall on the East Boston Waterfront. All four docks would need some work to accommodate the trips, with Lewis Mall probably requiring the most significant improvements. The proposed schedule calls for departures from each terminal every 15 minutes during rush hour on weekdays, and every 20 minutes during off-peak hours and on weekends. The modeling is based around fares that would either be $3.50 a trip or $6.50. Annual ridership is projected to be between 924,000 and 1.6 million.

Jon Chesto can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.