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The East Boston ferry makes a comeback

People traveling between East Boston and downtown can once again do so by ferry.

The East Boston Ferry, which resumes service Monday, is a seasonal pilot program that aims to increase travel along Boston’s waterways.

The MBTA launched the ferry last fall using $1 million provided by the state legislature for fiscal year 2023. The trip between Lewis Mall in East Boston and Long Wharf on the downtown waterfront.

State Sen. Lydia Edwards said she supports providing ways for people to get around that does not involve cars.

“If we don't, what we’ve found is that people will back up and use East Boston as a parking lot,” Edwards said. “And so what is vital is that we come up with ways to connect people as much as possible with Boston.”

More than 11,000 people took the ferry between September and November last year. Edwards is hopeful that ridership on the East Boston ferry will increase during the spring run, and solidify the need to make the service permanent.

She believes increasing the use of Boston’s waterways for commuting can help alleviate congestion on city roads.

“I think it's the future and I think it is worth investing in, and I think I'm hopeful that the governor and lieutenant governor also agree,” Edwards said.

Advocates like Alice Brown, who oversees planning and policy for the the nonprofit Boston Harbor Now, also want to see ferry service connecting Downtown Boston and Eastie become permanent.

“I think folks who've discovered the ferry are really excited about it,” Brown said.

Brown said she hopes to see the T promote East Boston ferry service in multiple languages to let commuters know it’s an option.

Passengers cannot pay for the ferry using their Charlie Cards.  Tickets can only be purchased using the T’s mTicket app. According to the MBTA, printed LinkPasses, Commuter Rail zone  and student passes can also be used.  To Brown, simplifying the payment options and integrating them into the rest of the T system would help make the boat ride more appealing to commuters.

“That's an added complication that the average resident does not do,” she said.

Due to restricted speeds throughout sections of the T’s subway system, general manager Jeff Gonneville recently told MBTA board members that the East Boston ferry will accept Charlie Card holders while repairs are made on subway tracks.

Service on the East Boston ferry begins at 7 a.m. on weekdays and runs every 30 minutes until 8 p.m.

Andrea Perdomo-Hernandez Transportation Reporter
Andrea Perdomo-Hernandez is a transportation reporter for WBUR.



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