“The day it started in June, I was on it,” said Lydia Olson of Swampscott, one of the devotees of the Lynn-to-Boston ferry.
Olson bikes from Swampscott to the dock on Blossom Street Extension and brings her two-wheeler aboard for the 7:45 a.m. commuter ferry. When the boat arrives at Central Wharf at 8:20, she dons her helmet and rides 15 minutes to Cambridge to begin her workday as a patent attorney for Canon USA.
Feel the breeze, taste the salt air, and chat with fellow riders about your creative 35-minute solution to traffic gridlock. It’s a day at the beach and you don’t even have to use sick leave.
Like others who were aboard on a sunny summer morning, Olson used to take the ferry, two years ago, but it didn’t run last summer because state transportation officials and Governor Charlie Baker decided the price tag was too high and ridership too low.
State Senator Thomas McGee disagreed. Citing Massachusetts Department of Transportation figures that estimated 13,322 people took the ferry in 2014 and 14,577 made the trip in 2015 — the first two years the summer commute was offered — he saw momentum building.
“You need to give it time to grow — five to 10 years,” McGee said.
Commuters also can take ferries from Salem and Winthrop to Boston. McGee used figures from the Hingham-Hull line to show sea travel’s potential. The South Shore boat started with 75 riders a day in 1977, he said, but grew when it added multiple trips and increased the speed to reduce travel time.
“Today, with 30 daily round-trips from Hingham, there are 65,000 passengers a month and over 822,000 riders a year,” McGee said. “It has turned into a substantial rider option. Lynn could be a part of that.”
For Lynn, there’s one departure and return each weekday through Sept. 22. The cost of a one-way ticket is $7, or $3.50 for seniors and children. The return trip leaves Central Wharf at 6 p.m., arriving in Lynn about 30 minutes later. Payment can be made on the boat, with either cash or credit cards, and you can buy food and drink during the voyage. Tickets are available online at www.bostonharborcruises.com/commuters/lynn-to-boston .
MBTA passes are not being accepted this summer because Lynn didn’t get state approval to run the ferry service until early June. McGee is hopeful that will change.
One way to make the service more economically feasible is for Lynn to purchase its own ferry. McGee said the city is in the process of purchasing a $4.5 million vessel with federal funds “so we can run our own service. We would save a lot of money, and we could do our own schedule,” said McGee, who anticipates its use by summer 2019.
US Representative Seth Moulton applauded the “bipartisan, intergovernmental effort” propelling the ferry option. Not only will it take cars off the roads, the ferry “will provide access to higher-paying jobs, housing, and opportunity for Lynn,” said Moulton, a Democrat who was instrumental in obtaining the grant to purchase the Lynn boat. He credited McGee and the Economic Development & Industrial Corporation of Lynn for leading the way.
Meanwhile, people like Paula Mackin of Lynn, who works at a law firm across the street from Central Wharf, are already enjoying the ferry’s benefits. She gets off the boat and is at work in two minutes. Sometimes she takes the MBTA Blue Line from Wonderland, but “this is much better. This is the ‘A’ option,” she said.
Caitlin and Cameron Merrill recently moved from South Boston to Nahant and were excited to be making the crossing for the first time.
Andrew Steingiser, another bicyclist from Swampscott who works as an architect in Cambridge, is glad the ferry is back.
“I love the boat ride,” he said. “You arrive downtown refreshed. I call it the anti-commute and wish it would run year-round, like the Hingham-Hull line.”
Bette Keva can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.