Date: June 20, 2019
To: Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization
From: Thomas J. Humphrey, Chief Planner, Transit Analysis and Planning,
Central Transportation Planning Staff
Re: Inventory of Ferry Boat and Other Passenger Water Transportation Services in Massachusetts in 2018 and 2019
Under Subtask 1.1 of the 2013 technical services contract between Central Transportation Planning Staff (CTPS) and the Massachusetts Ferry Compact, CTPS was required to provide an inventory of the ferry systems in the Commonwealth. That inventory, built on work originally produced by CTPS in 2001-02, was presented in a memorandum dated September 6, 2013. The information in that memorandum included the following:
In addition to the items listed above, the 2013 inventory included information about boat terminals and their landside connections, and available ridership figures. Data collection for this inventory was intended to be ongoing, and additional information would be added as it became available.
Between 2013 and 2018, there were several significant changes in Massachusetts ferry services. CTPS originally planned to provide updates to the 2013 inventory in the form of annual addenda memos. However, as this would require readers to cross-reference these with the 2013 inventory, the 2018 update is in the form of a revised complete inventory. Ridership figures are not available for many of the routes, and there have been few changes in terminal facilities and landside connections, so subsections on those topics are not included in the 2018 update. Instead, there is an appendix with background information for each service.
The study area extended between Cape Ann and New Bedford, and included Cape Cod and the Islands. The 2013 inventory included information about commuter, airport, and Harbor Island ferries, water taxi services, and multipurpose routes. This study maintained the same geographic coverage and categories of data as in the 2001-02 inventory. Special-purpose routes such as those for dinner cruises, whale watching cruises, and sightseeing cruises were included in the 2013 inventory only to the extent that ferries shared terminal facilities with these services. The special-purpose services are not included in the 2018 inventory.
Descriptions of 2018 services are based on the information published by the operators of each route throughout that year, but weather conditions or problems with vessels may have disrupted service at times.
Further updates after 2018 included in this inventory are based on information published by the ferry operators for the service they planned to operate in 2019 as of the time this document was completed. As always, schedules, fares, and vessel assignments are subject to change.
The remainder of this memorandum is arranged according to the following 11 water transportation services:
Background information about these services is presented in Appendix A in the same order that they appear in the main body of the memorandum. A series of maps in Appendix B shows the locations of the ferry boat routes discussed in the main body of the memorandum.
Currently, all year-round Boston ferry services are operated by private companies under contracts with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), which sets the fares for these services. Until 2017, the MBTA identified these routes as commuter ferries. Starting in 2017, the word commuter was dropped to show that the service is not only for commuting.
This route runs from the former Hingham Shipyard at Hewitt’s Cove on Weymouth Back River to Rowes Wharf in Boston, with no intermediate stops. Service is operated under contract with the MBTA by Nolan Associates, LLC, doing business as Boston Harbor Cruises (BHC). Selected trips are operated by Massachusetts Bay Lines under subcontract from BHC.
The schedule effective June 30, 2018, was still in effect in the spring of 2019. Under this schedule, Hingham commuter boat service operated on weekdays only, with 18 trips per day in each direction. The daily trips included 15 trips each way operated directly by BHC and three each way operated by Massachusetts Bay Lines. Departures from Hingham began at 6:00 AM and ended at 7:40 PM. Rowes Wharf departures were from 6:50 AM to 8:30 PM. Headways varied by time of day, with intervals as short as 15 minutes during peak hours and as long as three hours and 30 minutes at midday. The scheduled travel time was 35 minutes in each direction.
BHC employs a mixed fleet of 350-passenger vessels on the Hingham route. In 2018 these included the catamarans Aurora and Asteria, with top speeds of approximately 30 knots each, and the 20-knot monohull craft Ruth E. Hughes (formerly the Laura).Comparable vessels from the BHC fleet were substituted for these vessels as needed. These vessels included the monohull Regency (formerly the James J. Doherty) and the catamaran Sanctuary (formerly the Voyager III). Trips operated by Massachusetts Bay Lines were on the Massachusetts, a 20-knot monohull craft.
Effective July 1, 2016, the single-ride fare was $9.25, with half fares for seniors, persons with disabilities, and junior and senior high school students with Student S-Cards. Monthly passes—also valid for travel on all directly operated MBTA services, other MBTA-subsidized water transportation services, and commuter rail Zones 1 through 5—were priced at $308.00. Commuter rail passes for Zones 6 through 10 were also valid on this route.
This route has been operating in its present configuration since October 2013, when the outer terminal was changed from the former Fore River Shipyard in Quincy to the Hingham Shipyard. This change was initially necessitated by damage to the Quincy wharf from a broken water main. The MBTA subsequently concluded that repairing the Quincy terminal would not be cost effective based on the level of demand there. The MBTA sold the property to a developer in July 2014. The Boston terminal is on the north side of Long Wharf, also known as Long Wharf North.
Approximately half of the vessels making round trips from Hingham on this route stop at Logan Airport either before or after stopping at Long Wharf. Selected trips make an intermediate stop at Pemberton Point in Hull, and additional trips operate only between Hull and Long Wharf.
Until June 30, 2013, service on the old Quincy–Hull–Logan–Long Wharf route was operated under contract with the MBTA by Water Transportation Alternatives (WTA), doing business as Harbor Express. On May 22, 2013, the MBTA awarded a contract to Nolan Associates, LLC, doing business as Boston Harbor Cruises, to operate this route from July 1, 2013 to March 31, 2017. The MBTA awarded the most recent contract for this route to Boston Harbor Cruises in October 2018.
The schedule effective June 30 2018, was still in effect in the spring of 2019. This route operated on weekdays only, except from Memorial Day weekend through Columbus Day weekend. During all seasons there were 19 trips in each direction Monday through Friday and an additional trip each way on Friday only.
Of the inbound trips to Long Wharf, 14 originated at Hingham, including five that made no intermediate stops, six that also stopped at Logan Airport, two that stopped at Hull and one that stopped at Hull and Logan. The Friday-only trip started at Hingham and also stopped at Hull. The other five weekday trips originated at Hull and ran nonstop to Long Wharf.
Of the outbound trips from Long Wharf, 14 ran to Hingham, including two that made no intermediate stops, seven that also stopped at Hull only (as did the Friday-only trip), two that also stopped at both Logan and Hull, and three that also stopped at Logan only. The other five trips terminated at Hull, including two that also stopped at Logan. Short dwell times at Long Wharf allowed most of the outbound trips stopping at Long Wharf to serve some passengers carried over from inbound trips.
From Memorial Day weekend through Columbus Day weekend, two inbound trips and two outbound trips between Hingham and Long Wharf also made intermediate stops at Georges Island. The inbound Georges Island stops were only for alighting passengers and the outbound island stops were limited to boarding passengers.
On Saturdays and Sundays from Memorial Day weekend through Columbus Day there were 14 trips each way between Hingham and Long Wharf, with two additional trips each way on Saturdays only.
Of the 14 inbound trips from Hingham, three ran nonstop to Long Wharf, as did one Saturday-only trip; six trips made intermediate stops at Hull, including five that also stopped at Logan; and five stopped Georges Island. One Saturday-only trip also stopped at Logan but not at Hull.
Of the 14 outbound trips to Hingham, two ran nonstop to Hingham; six stopped at Hull, including one that also stopped at Logan; two stopped at Logan but not at Hull; and four stopped at Georges Island. Of the Saturday-only trips, one also stopped at Logan and one also stopped at Hull.
Mondays through Thursdays in 2018, departures from Hingham began at 5:40 AM and ended at 9:00 PM. The extra Friday trip left Hingham at 10:10 PM. On Monday through Thursday, departures from Long Wharf began at 6:25 AM to Hull and at 9:10 AM to Hingham. The last outbound trip left Long Wharf at 9:50 PM Monday through Thursday and at 10:55 PM on Friday. Headways varied by time of day, with intervals as short as 30 minutes during peak hours and as long as two hours at midday, but variation in the stops served resulted in much longer intervals at some stops.
Scheduled travel times between Hingham and Long Wharf varied depending on which intermediate stops, if any, were included. Nonstop scheduled times between Hingham and Long Wharf were mostly 33 to 35 minutes. The nonstop scheduled time from Hull to Long Wharf was 23 minutes. Stopping at Hull added 10 minutes to the trip time from Hingham, and stopping at Logan added another seven minutes.
Until 2017, most service on this route was provided by the catamarans Flying Cloud and Lightning, each with a capacity of 149 passengers and a top speed of 30 knots. These vessels are owned by the MBTA, which acquired them from Water Transportation Alternative, the original operator of the Quincy–Long Wharf route in 2002 when that company stopped providing unsubsidized service.
In 2017 and 2018, the MBTA accepted two newly built 149-passenger catamarans, Champion and Glory, for this route. The Flying Cloud and the Lightning were retained as backup vessels.
Fares between either Hingham or Hull and Long Wharf in 2018 were the same as the fares between Hingham and Rowes Wharf, discussed above in Section 2.1.4. Between either Hingham or Hull and Logan, the one-way full fare was $18.50, with half fares for seniors, passengers with disabilities, and students; commuter boat monthly passes were also accepted for travel between Hingham or Hull and Logan. Between Long Wharf and Logan, the full fare was $9.25, and the reduced fare was $4.60.
This route runs from the old Charlestown Navy Yard, now mostly converted to civilian uses, to Long Wharf on the downtown Boston waterfront. The Charlestown ferry terminal is on Pier 4. The Long Wharf terminal, also known as Long Wharf South, adjoins the walkway between Long Wharf and Central Wharf next to Old Atlantic Avenue. Boston Harbor Cruises operates the service under contract with the MBTA.
In 2018, service on this route was operated daily. The schedule had not changed for many years, and was still in effect in the spring of 2019. Under this schedule, on weekdays, there were 39 trips in each direction. Departures from Long Wharf began at 6:30 AM and ended at 8:00 PM. Vessels returning from the Navy Yard departed 15 minutes after the Long Wharf departure times. Headways in each direction were 15 minutes during peak hours and 30 minutes in midday and evening hours. The scheduled travel time was 10 minutes in each direction. On Saturdays and Sundays, there were 17 trips each way on 30-minute headways, leaving Long Wharf from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM and leaving the Navy Yard 15 minutes after the Long Wharf departure times.
Two vessels are required for weekday peak service on this route. Weekday off-peak and weekend schedules require only one vessel. In 2018, the vessels used most frequently on this route were the Rookie (formerly the Bostonian II) and the Rita (formerly the Edward Rowe Snow). The Rookie has a capacity of 149 passengers and the Rita has a capacity of 200 passengers. Both vessels have top speeds of 10 knots.
Effective July 1, 2016, the one-way fare was $3.50, with fares of $1.75 for seniors, persons with disabilities, and junior high or high school students with student CharlieCards. Ten-ride tickets for full-fare paying passengers were no longer offered but ten-ride tickets for reduced-fare paying passengers were priced at $17.50 The minimum monthly pass level valid on the route was the Zone 1A pass, priced at $84.50 a month; this pass was also valid for travel on all MBTA subway and local bus lines and for travel within commuter rail Zone 1A.
This route runs from Lovejoy Wharf near North Station to the Fan Pier near the Institute of Contemporary Art in South Boston. Bay State Cruises began operating this route in January 2019 under a one-year contract with the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority (MCCA). Funding comes from employers in the South Boston Seaport District.
The MCCA expects this service to be used mostly by passengers transferring to or from commuter rail trains at North Station. It replaces shuttle buses formerly funded by the employers now funding the ferry.
The schedule implemented in January 2019 has weekday departures from each end of the route every 20 minutes from 6:20 AM to 9:40 AM and from 3:20 PM to 7:00 PM. Scheduled trip times are 17 to 20 minutes in each direction.
For this service, Bay State Cruises has leased two monohulls, Moira Smith and Douglas B. Gurian, from New York Waterway. These boats were used in commuter service in New York Harbor until 2018. They are each licensed for 90 passengers. They have cruising speeds of approximately 10 knots.
No fares are charged to employees of participating companies who use this service. A limited number of seats are available to the general public by advance reservation, with one-way fares of $12.00 in the peak travel direction (toward the Fan Pier on morning trips and toward Lovejoy Wharf on afternoon and evening trips) and $5.00 in the reverse-peak direction.
From 1997 to 2005, Boston Harbor Cruises ran a ferry service between Lovejoy Wharf and the Courthouse Pier in South Boston, with a stop at the World Trade Center pier added in 1998. This service was part of efforts to offset traffic impacts of Central Artery project construction. The service was run under a contract with the MBTA and funded by what was then the Massachusetts Highway Department. This service predated much of the present development in the Seaport District and it was discontinued because of low ridership.
Two seasonal medium-distance ferry routes operated from Boston in 2018. One was operated by a private company under arrangement with a municipality; the other was municipally operated.
This route ran from a wharf at Blaney Street in Salem to Long Wharf in Boston with no intermediate stops. At Long Wharf, the berth used by the Salem ferry was at the outer end of the north side of the wharf.
Boston Harbor Cruises operated the service under a contract from the City of Salem, with annual renewal options. The City owns the vessel and provides the terminal facilities at Blaney Street. BHC does not receive a direct operating subsidy for the service. Under the operating contract, BHC sets the schedule and fares on this route.
The 2018 operating season for this route ran from May 19 to October 31. There were four round trips daily, departing from Salem at 7:00 AM, 10:30 AM, 1:00 PM, and 4:00 PM. Departures from Boston were at 9:30 AM, 11:45 AM, 2:30 PM, and 5:30 PM. On Saturdays and Sundays throughout the operating season, an additional round trip left Salem at 7:00 PM and Boston at 8:30 PM. This trip also ran on Fridays from June 22 through the end of the season, and on Memorial Day, July 4, and Labor Day. The normal travel time was 55 minutes in each direction. The shortest scheduled span between departures from Salem and Boston was one hour.
The published schedule for 2019 shows no significant changes from the 2018 schedule.
The usual vessel on the Salem route was the Nathaniel Bowditch, a catamaran with a top speed of approximately 30 knots. It was licensed for a maximum of 149 passengers. This vessel, formerly the Friendship IV, was built in 1994. The City of Salem purchased it in 2006. The ferry terminal at Blaney Street was upgraded in 2006 with $450,000 in funds from the state’s Seaport Advisory Council. In 2010, the City bought the terminal, including the wharf and parking lot, from Dominion Energy for $1.7 million.
Fares on this route are not regulated, and several fare levels and options were available in 2018. The same fares were published for 2019 service.
The basic fares for adults were $25.00 one way, $45.00 round trip, or 10 rides for $200.00. Fares for seniors ages 65 or older were $23.00 one way or $41.00 round trip. Fares for children ages three to 11 were $20.00 one way or $35.00 round trip. Special commuter fares, valid only on the 7:00 AM departure from Salem and the 5:30 PM departure from Boston, were $8.00 one way, $16.00 round trip, or 10 rides for $72.00. For seniors and children, the commuter fares were $4.00 one way or $8.00 round trip.
Special fares for Salem residents with proof of residency were $12.00 one way or $19.00 round trip for adults, $10.00 one way or $15.00 round trip for seniors, and $8.00 one way or $11.00 round trip for children. For residents of other ”Greater Salem” communities there were special fares of $18.75 one way or $33.75 round trip for adults, $17.25 one way or $30.75 round trip for seniors, and $15.00 one way or $26.25 round trip for children. These fares were available to residents of Beverly, Danvers, Lynn, Marblehead, Nahant, Peabody, and Swampscott.
All Salem Ferry passengers were eligible for discounted fares on the BHC Harbor Islands ferries and Boston Harbor water taxis.
In 2018, this route ran from the town landing off Shirley Avenue in Winthrop to the south side of Central Wharf (Aquarium Wharf) in Boston. Some trips also made stops in South Boston near the Institute of Contemporary Art or at Squantum Point Park in Quincy. These stops were identified as Seaport and Quincy, respectively, in the published schedules. Since 2016, Winthrop town employees certified by the US Coast Guard have operated the route.
The 2018 Winthrop ferry season ran from April 16 through November 30. The weekday spring schedule, in effect from April 16 through June 17, showed weekday departures from Winthrop to Boston at 6:00 AM, 7:55 AM, 10:00 AM, 3:00 PM, and 4:00 PM. The 6:00 AM trip made one intermediate stop at Quincy on the way to the Aquarium stop at Central Wharf. All other trips from Winthrop served the Seaport stop. The 7:55 AM and 10:00 AM trips continued to the Aquarium after the Seaport stop. On the 3:00 PM and 4:00 PM trips, the Seaport was the only Boston stop. The 4:00 PM trip continued from the Seaport to Quincy.
Outbound morning trips were scheduled to leave the Aquarium at 6:55 AM, 8:35 AM, and 10:35 AM, with the 6:55 AM trip stopping at Quincy on the way to Winthrop, the 8:35 AM trip running nonstop to Winthrop, and the 10:35 AM trip making a stop at the Seaport.
The 2018 Saturday and Sunday spring schedule showed departures from Winthrop at 9:30 AM, 12:00 PM, 3:30 PM, 6:00 PM, and 7:30 PM. The 9:30 AM trip ran to the Seaport and the Aquarium, then continued to Quincy, returned to the Aquarium via the Seaport, and proceeded to Winthrop.
The noon departure from Winthrop made a round trip to the Aquarium stopping at the Seaport in both directions. The 3:30 PM trip from Winthrop ran to the Aquarium via the Seaport, continued to Quincy, and returned to the Aquarium via the Seaport before returning to Winthrop.
The 6:00 PM trip from Winthrop made a round trip to the Aquarium, stopping at the Seaport in both directions. The 7:30 PM departure ran to the Aquarium via the Seaport, continued to Quincy, and returned to the Aquarium via the Seaport before returning nonstop to Winthrop.
The published schedules showed departure times from each stop but did not show most arrival times. Inbound departures from Winthrop were scheduled to leave the Seaport stop 20 minutes after departing Winthrop. The difference in departure times between the Seaport and the Aquarium was 15 minutes in either direction.
The summer 2018 schedule, in effect from June 18 through October 7, had several changes from the spring schedule. The 10:00 AM round trip from Winthrop stopped at Quincy instead of the Seaport on the way to the Aquarium, but still served the Seaport going in the outbound direction. The 3:00 PM and 4:00 PM inbound trips were extended to the Aquarium. The 4:00 PM trip returned to Winthrop after serving Quincy. Two round trips from Winthrop were added. The first one left Winthrop at 5:25 PM for the Aquarium, stopping at the Seaport in the outbound direction. The second round trip left Winthrop at 6:20 PM to go directly to Quincy and return. This effectively allowed a 65-minute trip from the Aquarium to Quincy via Winthrop.
On Thursdays and Fridays two additional evening round trips were scheduled. The first trip left Winthrop at 7:30 PM for the Aquarium, stopping at the Seaport going in the inbound direction. The second trip left Winthrop at 8:35 PM, stopping at the Seaport going in the inbound direction and at Quincy going outbound.
Separate Saturday and Sunday schedules were in effect during the summer schedule weeks. Saturday departures from Winthrop were scheduled for 10:00 AM, 12:15 PM, 3:30 PM, 5:40 PM, and 8:30 PM. The 10:00 AM trip stopped first at Quincy and then at Spectacle Island on the way to the Aquarium, and it stopped at the Seaport and Quincy on the outbound trip.
The 12:15 PM departure ran nonstop to the Aquarium. The return trip made a two-hour stop at Spectacle Island before returning to Winthrop via Quincy.
The 3:30 PM and 5:40 PM trips ran to the Aquarium via the Seaport, then each made a round trip to Quincy stopping at the Seaport going in the inbound direction, before returning non-stop to Winthrop. The 8:30 PM trip from Winthrop ran to the Aquarium via the Seaport and returned to Winthrop via Quincy.
The summer Sunday schedule showed departures from Winthrop at 10:00 AM, 12:05 PM, 3:30 PM, and 5:40 PM. The 10:00 AM Sunday trip was similar to the 10:00 AM Saturday trip, but the Spectacle Island stop was omitted from the Sunday trip. The 12:05 PM Sunday departure was a round trip from Winthrop to the Aquarium with no other stops. The 3:30 PM and 5:40 PM Sunday trips were the same as the Saturday trips at those times.
On weekdays, the fall 2018 schedule, in effect from October 8 through November 30 was the same as the summer 2018 schedule, except that on Thursdays and Fridays the additional round trip from Winthrop at 7:30 PM was included, but the additional 9:00 PM trip was not.
The fall 2018 Saturday schedule was similar to the summer schedule, except that the stops at Spectacle Island were eliminated and the stop at Quincy on the second trip was also eliminated.
The only 2019 schedule published as of mid-May was for service from April 22 through June 29. Most of the changes compared with the spring 2018 schedule were minor.
The vessel that provided Winthrop service starting in 2016 was the Valkyrie, a 73-passenger medium-speed catamaran, built for the Town of Winthrop. The contract cost of the vessel was $981,500, of which 20 percent was paid from town funds and the rest from state and federal grants. The Town of Winthrop has no backup vessel. After determining that leasing replacement vessels as needed from other operators would be too costly, the Town decided to suspend Winthrop ferry service whenever the Valkyrie is not available, leaving passengers to make their own alternate travel arrangements.
Fares on this route are set by the town of Winthrop. In 2018, the one-way adult fare between Winthrop or Quincy and the Seaport, Rowes Wharf, or Spectacle Island was $8.50 for adults, $6.50 for seniors age 65 or older, $6.00 for students with identification badges, $3.00 for children ages five through 12, and free for children younger than age five. Weekday trips in either direction starting between 6:00 AM and 8:35 AM or between 4:00 PM and 6:20 PM were designated as commuter runs, on which one-way fares for adults (including seniors age 65 or older) were reduced to $6.00. No passes or multiple-ride discounts were offered, but for convenience passengers could buy full-fare or commuter tickets in books of 10.
Most fares shown in the spring 2019 schedule were the same as the 2018 fares, but the fare for students was reduced to $3.00 and a $3.00 fare was implemented for children younger than age five.
Because the capacity of the vessel is limited, passengers could make online advance reservations for travel on specific trips at no additional charge.
Seasonal boat service from Boston to Provincetown on Cape Cod is operated by two competing private companies, with no direct public subsidies. A third route is run from Plymouth to Provincetown by another operator.
This route runs from the World Trade Center Pier in South Boston to MacMillan Pier in Provincetown with no intermediate stops. It is operated by Bay State Cruise Company, doing business as Bay State Cruises.
In 2018, the regular operating season for this route, similar to that for recent past seasons, ran from May 16 to October 14. Daily departures were scheduled for 8:30 AM, 1:00 PM, and 5:30 PM from Boston and at 10:30 AM, 3:00 PM, and 7:30 PM from Provincetown. The scheduled time for these trips was 90 minutes each way. On Mondays June 18, June 25, and July 9 to August 27, and on Thursday, July 5, and Tuesday, September 4, there was an additional trip leaving Provincetown at 6:30 AM and due in Boston at 8:00 AM. Unscheduled extra trips were run on some heavy travel days.
Bay State Cruises planned to implement new weekend service starting October 19 and continuing through December 2, with Friday departures from Boston at 5:30 PM and from Provincetown at 7:30 PM, and Saturday and Sunday departures from Boston at 8:30 AM and from Provincetown at 3:00 PM. However, because of rough seas, several of these trips had to cancelled and replaced with buses.
The schedules above were all part of the Bay State Cruises Fast Ferry Service. Bay State Cruises also scheduled Traditional Ferry Service trips with a travel time of three hours on two Saturdays, June 30 and July 7, in 2018. These trips were scheduled to leave Boston at 9:00 AM and Provincetown at 3:00 PM.
The Fast Ferry Service schedule published for the 2019 season shows no service after October 14, but includes a 6:30 AM trip from Provincetown on the Monday before July 4. It is otherwise the same as the 2018 schedule. The scheduled dates for Traditional Ferry trips to Provincetown in 2019 are shown as Saturdays June 29 and July 6. However, the Provincetown departure time for these trips is changed from 3:00 PM to 1:05 PM and travel times are lengthened by 15 minutes each way.
The usual Fast Ferry boats on this line during the 2018 season were the Provincetown III and the Provincetown IV, high-speed catamarans with capacities of 149 passengers each. These boats had cruising speeds of approximately 30 knots
The Traditional Ferry trips were run with the monohull vessel Provincetown II. This vessel has a top speed of 16 knots and a maximum capacity of 1,100 passengers.
Fares on this route are not regulated. In 2018 Bay State Cruises introduced what it called separate base and peak fares. The latter were to apply on peak-demand trips, which were expected to vary throughout the season, but passengers could learn if peak fares applied only when booking travel. Adult fares were $60.00 base or $63.00 peak one way and $89.00 base or $95.00 peak round trip. Senior fares were $56.00 base or $59.00 peak one way and $79.00 base or $85.00 peak round trip. For children ages three to 12, fares were $40.00 base or $43.00 peak one way and $66.00 base or $72.00 peak round trip. For children younger than age three, fares were $23.00 one way or $33.00 round trip. Ten-ride passes that could be shared by two passengers per trip cost $400.00. From these fares, Bay State Cruises was required to pay an embarkation fee of 50 cents to the town of Provincetown for each passengerboarding a boat there.
On the two Saturday trips by the Provincetown II, adult fares were $30.00 one way or $60.00 round trip, but children younger than age 12 could ride for free.
In 2019 all Fast Ferry one way and round trip fares were increased by $1.00 from the 2018 rates, and the ten-ride pass price was raised $10.00. Traditional Ferry fares in 2019 were the same as in 2018.
This route runs from Long Wharf in Boston to MacMillan Pier in Provincetown with no intermediate stops. It is operated by Boston Harbor Cruises.
The 2018 operating season for this route was May 17 through October 8. Several different schedules were used during this span, providing one, two, or three round trips per day. The one-round-trip schedule had departures at 9:00 AM from Boston and at 4:00 PM from Provincetown. The two-round-trip schedule added departures at 2:00 PM from Boston and at 11:00 AM from Provincetown. The three-round-trip schedule added departures at 6:30 PM from Boston and 8:30 PM from Provincetown. The scheduled time for all of these trips was 90 minutes each way.
The one-round-trip schedule was in effect daily from May 17 to June 3 except May 24 to May 28; on Tuesday through Thursday from September 4 to September 27; and daily from October 1 to October 8.
The two-round-trip schedule was in effect on Monday through Wednesday from June 4 to August 29 (except July 4 and August 15), and on Mondays from September 10 to September 24. On Mondays from June 4 to August 27, an extra trip left Provincetown at 7:00 AM.
The regular three-round-trip schedule was in effect on Thursday through Monday from May 24 to May 28 (Memorial Day Weekend); on Thursday through Sunday from June 7 to September 3 (Labor Day); on Wednesday,
July 4, and Wednesday, August 15; and on Friday through Sunday from September 7 to September 30.
The only significant change in the published schedule for 2019 is the extension of the operating season by one week, to October 14; the regular one-round-trip schedule will be in effect each day.
The usual boat on this line is the Salacia, a high-speed catamaran with a capacity of 600 passengers. This boat has a cruising speed of approximately 34 knots. Other catamarans from the Boston Harbor Cruises fleet are used on some trips.
Fares on this route are not regulated. In 2018, adult fares were $61.00 one way or $93.00 round trip. For children ages three to 11, fares were $39.00 one way or $65.00 round trip. For children younger than age three, fares were $23.00 one way or $33.00 round trip. Senior fares (for ages 65 or older) were $57.00 one way or $83.00 round trip. Ten-ride passes, which could be used by two passengers at a time, were priced at $400. Season passes were priced at $1,100. From these fares, Boston Harbor Cruises was required to pay an embarkation fee of 50 cents to the town of Provincetown for each passengerboarding a boat there.
The only changes in these fares for 2019 were that the round-trip fare for children ages three to 11 was raised to $68.00, and the season pass price was raised to $1,200.
This route runs from the Mayflower II State Pier in Plymouth to MacMillan Pier in Provincetown. In 2018, the route operator was Plymouth Sea Tours, LLC, doing business as Captain John Boats.
The Captain John Boats website showed Plymouth to Provincetown service in 2018 operating from June to September but did not include specific starting and ending dates. On each day during this span, there was a single round trip leaving Plymouth at 10:00 AM and Provincetown at 4:30 PM. The scheduled trip time was 90 minutes each way. Between the Provincetown arrival and departure times, the boat was used for whale watch excursions.
Published schedules for 2019 show the same departure times as in 2018 on all operating days. Service is to begin with trips on Saturday through Monday of Memorial Day weekend, then Friday through Sunday each weekend through June 15, then daily through Labor Day, September 2, and Friday through Sunday until September 29.
In 2018, the boat usually assigned to this route was the Capt. John & Son IV. The Capt. John & Son II was used as needed as a back-up. These were monohulls with capacities of 300 passengers and cruising speeds of approximately 15 knots.
Fares on this route are not regulated. In 2018, round-trip fares were $53.00 for adults, $42.00 for seniors age 62 or older, and $32.00 for children ages four through 12. The one-way fare was $32.00, with no senior or child discounts. From these fares, the boat operator was required to pay an embarkation fee of 50 cents to the town of Provincetown for each passengerboarding a boat there.
In 2019, round-trip fares were raised to $55.00 for adults and $45.00 for seniors. One-way fares were raised to $35.00. Child fares were not changed.
This route runs from MacMillan Pier on the downtown Provincetown waterfront southeast across Provincetown Harbor to Long Point Beach at the end of a narrow peninsula that is also within the town limits. In 2018, Flyer’s Boat Rental was the operator of the shuttle. Flyer’s has run shuttle service to Long Point since at least 1998.
In 2018, the operating season for the shuttle ran from May 26 through Labor Day. From May 26, to June 22, an off-season schedule was in effect. The downtown departure point was Flyer’s Boat Yard at 131 Commercial Street instead of MacMillan Pier. Departures from there were every two hours from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM.
From June 23, 2018, to Labor Day, the downtown departure point was MacMillan Pier, slip #8. Departures from there were scheduled for every 30 minutes from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, weather permitting. The trip time between either of the downtown terminals and Long Point was approximately 10 minutes. Return departures from Long Point were on the quarter hours.
In 2018, the vessel usually assigned to this route was an unnamed 30-passenger pontoon boat built in 2011. There is no pier at Long Point, so the boat is designed to pull up to the beach and drop a set of steps directly onto the sand.
Fares on this route are not regulated. In 2018 published fares per person for all passengers regardless of age were $10.00 one way or $15.00 round trip. There is no road to Long Point, but walking the length of the beach in one direction and taking the shuttle in the other direction is an option.
The island of Martha’s Vineyard is served by more ferry routes and operators than any section of Massachusetts except Boston Harbor. Some of these operate year round and others operate only seasonally. At present, it is possible to access the island via eight different scheduled routes from ports in Massachusetts and three routes from other states.
The Woods Hole, Martha’s Vineyard & Nantucket Steamship Authority, marketed as The Steamship Authority (SSA), is the only boat operator serving Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket that transports both passengers and vehicles. Under the Massachusetts legislation that established the Steamship Authority, and subsequent amendments, most commercial passenger or freight transportation by boat between the mainland of the Commonwealth and Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket or between the two islands requires a license or a permit in writing from the SSA. Passenger vessels certified by the Coast Guard to carry 40 or fewer passengers are exempt from SSA regulation. Larger vessels that had been exempt under rules in effect prior to 1973, or replacements of equal capacity for such vessels, are also exempt from SSA regulation. All vessels operated for carriage of vehicles or freight for hire or resale must have SSA licenses or permits.
In general, licenses issued by the SSA to independent boat operators specify the vessels to be used, the schedules, and the fares that are to be charged. These details are proposed by the operators in their license applications but must be approved by the SSA. Subsequent changes must also be approved by the SSA.
Currently, no independent operators are licensed by the SSA to transport vehicles to or from the islands. The only private freight transportation permitted is for relatively small items that are transferred between boats and vehicles at the mainland and island terminals. Private boat owners may transport cargo for their personal use without SSA licenses. The SSA does not have jurisdiction over interstate transportation except that interstate carriers that use SSA terminals must pay fees to the SSA.
By law, the SSA is required to set fares and vehicle transportation rates for its own services at levels sufficient to cover anticipated operating costs and fixed charges on bonds issued for capital expenses. The Department of Public Utilities is empowered to disapprove such fares and rates after public hearings, if petitioned to do so, but this power has seldom, if ever, been exercised.
The Steamship Authority operates year-round ferry service between Woods Hole in Falmouth and Vineyard Haven in Tisbury with additional seasonal service between Woods Hole and Oak Bluffs. All three terminals are owned by the SSA.
The base schedule, in effect from January 5 through March 14, provided 12 daily round trips. The first daily departure from Woods Hole was at 7:00 AM and the last at 8:30 PM, with intervals between departures mostly 75 minutes. The first daily departure from Vineyard Haven was at 6:00 AM and the last at 7:15 PM. Additional trips left Woods Hole at 6:00 AM Monday through Friday and at 9:45 PM on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. Additional trips left Vineyard Haven at 8:30 PM on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays and at 9:30 PM on Sundays through Thursdays. (From January 1 to January 4, the schedule was the same as above except that the 6:00 AM trip from Woods Hole and the 9:30 PM trip from Vineyard Haven also ran daily.) The scheduled trip time for all trips was 45 minutes in each direction.
From March 15 to May 10 and from October 23 to December 31, the same schedule as from January 5 to March 15 was in effect, except that all trips ran daily.
From May 11 to June 18 and from September 8 to October 22, all 14 round trips ran daily. However, the destination of trips leaving Woods Hole at 9:30 AM and at noon, 2:30 PM, and 5:00 PM was Oak Bluffs instead of Vineyard Haven. Likewise, the return trips at 10:45 AM and at 1:15 PM, 3:45 PM, and 6:15 PM departed from Oak Bluffs instead of Vineyard Haven. The scheduled time between Woods Hole and Oak Bluffs on all trips was 45 minutes each way, the same as the time between Woods Hole and Vineyard Haven.
From June 19 to September 7, in addition to the diversions above, five more daily round trips between Woods Hole and Oak Bluffs were scheduled. These left Woods Hole at 6:30 AM, 8:35 AM, 11:05 AM, 1:35 PM and 4:05 PM, and left Oak Bluffs at 7:30 AM, 9:50 AM, 12:20 PM, 2:50 PM, and 5:20 PM. The 7:30 PM trip from Woods Hole and the 8:30 PM return trip were also diverted from Vineyard Haven to Oak Bluffs.
Additional summer season trips were scheduled to leave Vineyard Haven at 5:30 AM daily and, if demand warranted, at 7:30 PM Monday through Thursday. An added trip left Oak Bluffs at 7:30 PM Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and July 4 and Labor Day. An added trip leaving Woods Hole at 6:30 PM ran to Vineyard Haven Monday through Thursday and to Oak Bluffs on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and the two holidays.
In the schedules published for 2019, the only change from 2018 is the exclusion of the 7:30 PM trip from Vineyard Haven that ran Monday through Thursday, as needed, in the summer.
The peak summer service on these routes required three vessels. The 2018 published schedule showed these as the Nantucket, the Martha’s Vineyard, and the Island Home. The Nantucket has a capacity of 768 persons (including passengers and crew) and 50 vehicles and has a top speed of approximately 14 knots. The Martha’s Vineyard has a capacity of 1,274 persons and 54 vehicles and has a top speed of approximately 14 knots. The Island Home has a capacity of 1,210 persons and 76 vehicles, and a top speed of 16 knots. The regular schedules of these boats were supplemented by operation of the Katama and the Governor. The latter two are designed mainly for transporting freight in trucks, but the Katama has capacity for 150 persons and the Governor can accommodate 256 persons.
Schedules in effect before June 19 and after September 7 required only two vessels, usually two of the three high-capacity ones described above. However, from January 1 to March 23, the Woods Hole was scheduled to alternate with one of the other vessels. The Woods Hole has a capacity of 453 persons and 55 standard-size vehicles or 10 freight trucks, and a top speed of approximately 15 knots.
As discussed in greater detail above, the Steamship Authority sets its own fares. In 2018, one-way fares were $8.50 for adults, $4.50 for children ages five to 12, and free for children younger than age five. No round-trip or senior discounts were offered. From these fares, the SSA was required to pay embarkation fees of 50 cents to the towns of Falmouth, Tisbury, and Oak Bluffs for each passengerboarding a boat in that town. The same fares were in effect in 2019.
Steamship Authority vessels also transport vehicles between Woods Hole and both Vineyard Haven and Oak Bluffs. Rates for these vary by season and by vehicle size.
The Island Commuter Corporation operates seasonal service from a terminal at Falmouth Heights Road south of Robbins Road on Falmouth Inner Harbor, and the Oak Bluffs town landing on Martha’s Vineyard. This service is exempt from SSA regulation because the vessel that provides it was under construction prior to the May 30, 1973, cut-off date specified by state law.
The Island Commuter schedules in 2018 changed only slightly from those previously in effect for many years .The 2018 operating season ran from May 25 to October 8. On Mondays through Thursdays from May 25 to June 7 and from September 10 to October 8, there were three round trips per day, with departures from Falmouth at 9:00 AM, 10:30 AM and 3:00 PM and from Oak Bluffs at 9:40 AM, 2:15 PM, and 3:45 PM. On Fridays there were additional Falmouth departures at 6:00 PM and 8:00 PM and additional Oak Bluffs departures at 6:45 PM and 8:45 PM. On Saturdays, Sundays, Memorial Day, and Columbus Day, there were five round trips. Departure times were the same as on Monday through Thursday, with additional trips from Falmouth at noon and 4:30 PM, and from Oak Bluffs at 11:05 AM and 5:15 PM. The scheduled trip time in each direction was approximately 35 minutes. (In prior years, the 3:00 PM and 9:40 AM trips were not included in the spring and fall Monday-through-Thursday schedule.)
Maximum service was in effect between June 8 and September 9. During that period, there were seven daily round trips, with departures from Falmouth every 90 minutes between 9:00 AM and 6:00 PM, and from Oak Bluffs at 35 to 40 minutes after each of the first three Falmouth trips and 45 minutes after each of the other trips. On Fridays there was an eighth round trip leaving Falmouth at 8:00 PM, with return departure at 8:45 PM. On Sundays and Labor Day there was an eighth round trip leaving Falmouth at 7:30 PM, with return departure at 8:15 PM.
The only change in published schedules for 2019 is that the fall schedule is to be extended through October 14.
All service on this route is provided by the Island Queen, a monohullwith a capacity of 600 passengers and a cruising speed of 14 knots.
Fares in 2018 were $14.00 one way or $22.00 round trip for adults, and $8.00 one way or $12.00 round trip for children ages 5 to 12. Children age 4 and younger rode free. Special fares of $8.00 one way or $14.00 round trip were offered to active military personnel. Reduced-rate commuter tickets for multiple rides were available: 20 trips cost $170.00 and 10 trips cost for $90.00 for adults and $50.00 for children. These tickets could be shared by two passengers on the same trip.
From all fares, Island Commuter was required to pay embarkation fees of 50 cents per passenger to the towns of Falmouth and Oak Bluffs.
There were no changes in fares between 2018 and 2019.
Patriot Party Boats, Inc. operates a year-round water shuttle service from a terminal at the east end of Clinton Avenue off Scranton Avenue on Falmouth Inner Harbor to the Oak Bluffs town landing on Martha’s Vineyard. Many of the trips on this route are operated primarily for transportation of freight, such as newspapers, packages, building materials, and auto parts. All of the freight is transferred to or from highway vehicles at the Falmouth and Oak Bluffs terminals. Passenger service on this route is exempt from SSA regulation because the vessel is licensed for a maximum of 40 passengers.
The year-round service on this route has not changed for several years. In 2018 there were eight scheduled round trips on Monday through Friday, three on Saturday, and one on Sunday. Crossing times were approximately 30 minutes. The first trip left Falmouth at 4:00 AM Monday through Saturday. The last departure from Oak Bluffs was at 5:00 PM on weekdays and 2:00 PM on Saturdays. The Sunday trip left Falmouth at 2:30 AM and Oak Bluffs at 3:00 AM. The main purpose of this trip was to deliver Sunday newspapers to the island. Additional trips were run as needed during summer months.
The same schedule was still posted on the Patriot Party Boats website in 2019.
The usual boat on this route was the Quickwater, a former oil-rig crew boat, with a cruising speed of 15 knots and a maximum capacity of 40 passengers. While this capacity is within the limit that does not require a license from the Steamship Authority for passenger service, a permit is required for freight transportation.
In 2018, the one-way fare on this route was $12.00, with no discounts for round trips or for age. Tickets were sold only on board the boat, for cash only. Ten-trip tickets were available for $90.00.
The published rate for freight was $10.00 per box, or $20.00 or more for larger items.
The same passenger fares and freight rates were still posted on the Patriot Party Boats website in 2019.
Unsubsidized seasonal service from the State Pier in New Bedford to the Steamship Authority terminal in Oak Bluffs is operated by Seastreak, LLC. Fares, schedules, and vessels used on the route are subject to approval of the Steamship Authority. Until 2014, Seastreak also operated seasonal service from New Bedford to the Vineyard Haven SSA terminal.
The 2018 season ran from May 18 to October 8, with several different levels of service provided. The scheduled trip time from New Bedford to Oak Bluffs was one hour in each direction.
On Friday and Saturday May 18 and 19, two round trips per day were scheduled, leaving New Bedford at 9:30 AM and 4:30 PM, and leaving Oak Bluffs at 10:45 AM and 5:45 PM. On May 20, the times for the first round trip were the same as these, but the second round trip left New Bedford at 3:00 PM and Oak Bluffs at 4:30 PM.
From May 21 to May 24, from May 29 to June 17, and from September 4 to October 8, three round trips per day were scheduled, leaving New Bedford at 6:30 AM, 9:00 AM, and 2:00 PM, and leaving Oak Bluffs at 7:45 AM, 12:45 PM, and 5:45 PM.
From May 25 to May 28 (Memorial Day Weekend) and from June 18 to September 3, the same three round trips as above were scheduled, with three additional round trips leaving New Bedford at 11:30 AM, 4:30 PM, and 7:00 PM, and leaving Oak Bluffs at 10:15 AM, 3:15 PM, and 8:15 PM. On Fridays only from June 22 to August 31, a seventh round trip left New Bedford at 9:30 PM and Oak Bluffs at 10:35 PM.
A new service introduced in 2018 ran from New Bedford to Edgartown from December 6 through 9 for the Christmas in Edgartown Festival, with two round trips each day.
Schedules published in March 2019 showed a slightly longer operating season, extending from May 15 to October 24, 2019. From May 15 to June 18, except Memorial Day weekend, and from September 4 to October 24, there were to be three round trips each day. Departure times for most trips were the same as those in the 2018 three-round-trip schedule, but the second and third Oak Bluffs departures were changed to 12:00 PM and 5:00 PM.
On Memorial Day weekend and daily from June 19 through September 3, there were to be six round trips a day, and a seventh round trip on Friday nights, all with departure times the same as those in the maximum 2018 schedules.
Christmas in Edgartown service was to be repeated in 2019, with two round trips per day from New Bedford from December 13 to 15. A new service advertised for 2019 offers two round trips each day between New Bedford and Oak Bluffs from November 27 to December 1 for Thanksgiving.
All of the 2018 schedules on this route could be operated with one vessel. The Seastreak routes from New Bedford to Oak Bluffs and to Nantucket usually shared the Seastreak Whaling City Express and the Seastreak Martha’s Vineyard Express. Both of these vessels have capacities of 149 passengers each and top speeds of 29 knots.
In 2018, adult fares on the New Bedford to Oak Bluffs service were $40.00 one way, $50.00 for a same-day round trip, or $70.00 for a round trip returning on a different day. Children ages three through 12 rode free with a paying adult except on the 9:00 AM New Bedford and 5:45 PM Oak Bluff departures and on all trips on the July 4 and Labor Day weekends, when they were charged $22.00 one way, $40.00 round trip, or $30.00 for a same-day round trip. Children younger than age three rode free at all times. No senior discounts were offered, but full-time island residents and military personnel were given reduced fares of $30.00 one-way or $60.00 round trip Ten-trip commuter ticket books were priced at $385.00.
For the Christmas in Edgartown service fares were the same as summer fares between New Bedford and Oak Bluffs.
Seastreak is required to pay embarkation fees of 50 cents per passenger to the City of New Bedford and the Town of Oak Bluffs.
All fares published for 2019 were the same as for 2018, except that the charge for children applied only on departures from New Bedford at 9:00 AM or from Oak Bluffs at 5:45 PM on all days in 2019.
Until 2015, Hyannis Harbor Tours, Inc., doing business as Hy-Line Cruises, ran two seasonal services, referred to as Traditional and High Speed, between Hyannis and Oak Bluffs. Starting in 2016, Hy-Line planned to run only High-speed service on this route. However, because of a delay in delivery of a new high-speed catamaran, Hy-Line ran some service on this route with leased monohull vessels. In 2017 and 2018, Hy-line only ran High Speed service on this route.
At Hyannis, all Hy-Line routes use the Hy-Line terminal on Ocean Street on Hyannis Inner Harbor. At Oak Bluffs, Hy-Line uses a private dock off Circuit Avenue Extension on Oak Bluffs Harbor.Fares, schedules, and vessels used on the route are subject to approval of the Steamship Authority.
In 2018, High-Speed Ferry service between Hyannis and Oak Bluffs was scheduled to run from May 5 to October 28, with several schedule changes during that period. From May 5 to May 24 and again from October 8 to October 25, two round trips per day were scheduled to depart at 9:25 AM and 3:15 PM from Hyannis. Oak Bluffs departures were scheduled for 10:55 AM and 4:25 PM, from May 1 to 10 and from October 23 to 28, changing to 10:45 AM and 4:30 PM from May 11 to 24 and from October 8 to 22.
From May 25 through June 22, the schedule called for four round-trips per day, leaving Hyannis at 8:00 AM, 9:00 AM, 11:40 AM, and 4:50 PM, and leaving Oak Bluffs at 10:20 AM, 3:35 PM, 6:10 PM, and 6:45 PM.
Service expanded to six round trips per day from June 23 to September 2, with Hyannis departures at 2:15 PM and 7:25 PM and Oak Bluffs departures at 12:55 PM and 8:40 PM added to the four trips each way scheduled from May 25 through June 22
From September 3 through October 7, 2018, three round-trips per day were scheduled, with departures from Hyannis at 9:00 AM, 11:40 AM, and 5:25 PM and from Oak Bluffs at 10:20 AM, 4:10 PM, and 6:45 PM.
In 2018, for the second year, Hy-Line provided special service from Hyannis to the Christmas in Edgartown festival. In 2018, the festival ran from December 6 to 9, and Hy-Line ran two or three round-trips each day.
In 2019, the two-round-trip schedule applied from May 4 to 23 and from October 15 to 27. The four-round-trip schedule applied from May 24 to June 21 and from September 2 to October 14. The six-round-trip schedule applied from June 22 to September 1.
The 2019 Christmas in Edgartown festival will run from December 13 to 15. The Hy-Line schedule shows two round trips on Friday and three each on Saturday and Sunday.
Two high-speed catamarans served this route in 2018. One of these was the Lady Martha (formerly the Grey Lady II), which has a top speed of 32 knots, a cruising speed of approximately 27 knots, and a capacity of 149 passengers. The other was the 350-passenger Vineyard Lady (formerly the Golden Sunshine) acquired used by Hy-Line in December 2015. The Vineyard Lady has a top speed of 25 knots and a cruising speed of 23.9 knots.
The Vineyard Lady was the primary vessel on the route, providing all service when two or three round trips per day were scheduled, and all but one round trip per day when more than three trips were scheduled. The Lady Martha was supposed to be used on trips not scheduled for the Vineyard Lady, and was also used sometimes in place of that vessel. Scheduled trips times in each direction were 60 minutes for trips by the Vineyard Lady and 55 minutes for the Lady Martha.
From May 25 to September 2, the Lady Martha was scheduled to make the 8:00 AM trip from Hyannis followed by three round trips on the Inter-Island route, discussed in Section 5.6, and returning to Hyannis as the 6:45 PM trip from Oak Bluffs.
In 2018 Hy-Line fares between Hyannis and Oak Bluffs were $29.50 each way for adults and $19.50 each way for children ages five through 12, with no round-trip discounts. From these fares, Hy-Line was required to pay embarkation fees of 50 cents per passenger to the towns of Barnstable and Oak Bluffs. The same fares applied for the Christmas in Edgartown festival, except that there was no embarkation fee at Edgartown.
All fares were the same in 2019 as in 2018.
Hy-Line Cruises operates a seasonal route referred to as the Inter-Island route between Nantucket and Oak Bluffs. At Oak Bluffs, this service uses the same dock off Circuit Avenue Extension that is used by Hy-Line service from Hyannis, discussed in Section 5.5 above. On Nantucket, this service uses Straight Wharf, in the main town center. Fares, schedules, and vessels used on the route are subject to approval of the Steamship Authority.
In 2018, the Inter-Island service ran from May 25 through October 7. Three round trips per day were scheduled from May 25 through September 2, with departures from Oak Bluffs at 9:05 AM, 12:00 PM, and 3:50 PM, and from Nantucket at 10:30 AM and 1:30 and 5:15 PM. The scheduled trip time in each direction was 70 minutes.
From September 3 to October 7, one round trip per day was scheduled to leave Oak Bluffs at 12:55 PM and to leave Nantucket at 2:30 PM. The scheduled time in each direction for these trips was 80 minutes.
The 2019 schedule called for three round trips per day from May 24 through October 14. Departure times were the same as in the 2018 three-round-trip schedule, except that the second departure was five minutes later from Oak Bluffs and ten minutes later from Nantucket, and starting September 3 the third departure was at 4:05 PM from Oak Bluffs and 5:30 PM from Nantucket.
From May 25 to September 2, the Lady Martha was scheduled for all three daily trips on this route, preceded by a one-way trip from Hyannis to Oak Bluffs, and followed by a one-way trip from Oak bluffs to Hyannis. From September 3 through October 7, the Vineyard Lady was scheduled to make the one daily round trip, between making the second trip from Hyannis to Oak Bluffs and the second trip from Oak Bluffs to Hyannis. More details about these vessels appear in Section 5.5.3.
In 2018, fares on the Inter-Island route were $36.00 one way or $65.00 round trip for adults and $24.00 one way or $45.00 round trip for children ages five through 12. From these fares, Hy-Line was required to pay embarkation fees of 50 cents per passenger to the towns of Nantucket and Oak Bluffs. All fares in 2019 were the same as in 2018.
Cape & Islands Transport, Inc., doing business as Falmouth-Edgartown Ferry, operates seasonal service from Falmouth Inner Harbor to Edgartown. The Falmouth terminal is at the Falmouth Marine boatyard on Scranton Avenue, south of Lowry Road. At Edgartown, this route terminates at Memorial Wharf on Dock Street in Edgartown Harbor. Fares, schedules, and vessels used on the route are subject to approval of the Steamship Authority.
The 2018 scheduled operating season for this route was from May 25 to September 3. From May 25 through June 17, service was offered only on Fridays through Sundays and Memorial Day. On each of these days there were departures from Falmouth at 11:30 AM and 4:00 PM, with return departures from Edgartown at 12:45 and 5:15 PM. In addition, on Fridays there were departures at 6:30 PM from Falmouth and at 7:45 PM from Edgartown. On Saturdays and Sundays and Memorial Day there also were departures at 9:00 AM from Falmouth and at 10:15 AM from Edgartown.
From June 22 through September 3 on Monday through Saturday, there were four round trips each day, leaving Falmouth at 8:30 AM, 11:00 AM, 1:30 PM, and 4:00 PM. Edgartown departures were at 9:45 AM, 12:15 PM, 2:45 PM, and 5:15 PM. An additional round trip left Falmouth at 7:00 PM on Fridays only, with a return trip leaving Edgartown at 8:15 PM. On Sundays and Labor Day, departures were at 10:00 AM, 12:30 PM, 3:00 PM, and 6:00 PM from Falmouth and 11:15 AM, 1:45 PM, 4:15 PM, and 7:15 PM from Edgartown. The scheduled trip time in each direction was one hour.
The published schedule for 2019 showed no changes from 2018.
The usual vessel on this route is the M.V. Pied Piper, which has a capacity of 145 passengers, a top speed of 12.8 knots, and an average speed of 10.1 knots. The 127-passenger Sandpiper may be used on some trips.
One-way fares on this route in 2018 were $30.00 for adults, $20.00 for children ages six to 12 and free for children ages five and younger. No round-trip discounts were advertised, but 10-ride commuter books were available for $240.00 for adults or $160.00 for children. From these fares, Cape & Islands Transport is required to pay embarkation fees of 50 cents per passenger to the towns of Falmouth and Edgartown, except for those who pay fares with commuter books. All fares in 2019 were the same as in 2018.
Chappaquiddick Ferry, Inc., doing business as Chappy Ferry, provides year-round service between Edgartown on the main island of Martha’s Vineyard and Chappaquiddick Island across Edgartown Harbor. The Edgartown terminal is at the east end of Dock Street. The Chappaquiddick terminal is at the northwest end of Chappaquiddick Road. The total length of the route is 527 feet.
During hours of operation, departures are continuous, with boats leaving both docks simultaneously. In 2018, in the off-season before May 24 and after October 14, hours of operation were 6:45 AM to 8:00 PM, 9:00 PM to 10:00 PM, and 11:00 to 11:15 PM. From May 24 through October 14, service ran from 6:45 AM to midnight with no breaks. The 2019 schedule had no changes.
Service on this route is provided by two open-deck double-ended ferries, the On Time II and the On Time III. Each boat can carry three average size autos and approximately 20 walk-on passengers.
Fares on this route are not regulated and only round-trip fares are sold. Most fares in 2018 had been in effect for more than five years. Round-trip fares were $4.00 per individual or $12.00 for a car and driver. For frequent riders, books of 50 round-trip tickets were available for $150.00. For a car and driver, books of 25 round-trip tickets were available for $225.00. Various other fare options were available for other vehicle types. All fares in 2019 were the same as in 2018.
Rhode Island Fast Ferry, Inc., doing business as Vineyard Fast Ferry, operates seasonal service between Quonset Point in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, and Oak Bluffs. The Quonset Point terminal is at the east end of Roger Williams Way, near the Quonset Air Museum.
At Oak Bluffs, this service uses an assigned berth at the town landing on the point of land north of the intersection of Circuit Avenue Extension and Seaview Avenue.
Service in 2018 ran from May 24 through October 8. Five different schedule combinations, identified by color codes, were used during this period. Of these, four provided two round trips per day, one provided three round trips per day, and one provided four round trips per day. Each of the schedules showed trip times of one hour and 40 minutes in each direction for all trips.
The green schedule with four round trips was in effect only on the Fridays before Memorial Day, before July 4, and before Labor Day. It provided departures from Quonset Point at 8:05 AM, 12:00 PM, 4:30 PM, and 8:30 PM and from Oak Bluffs at 10:00 AM, 2:00 PM, 6:30 PM, and 10:15 PM.
The yellow schedule with three round trips was in effect on Thursdays through Sundays from July 5 through August 26. It was also in effect on Mondays May 28, July 2, and August 6 through September 3, and on June 22, 24, 28, and 30, July 3 and 4, August 7, 8, 14, and 15, and October 5. This schedule provided departures from Quonset Point at 8:30 AM, 1:00 PM, and 5:30 PM and from Oak Bluffs at 10:30 AM, 3:15 PM, and 7:30 PM.
The orange, blue, and pink schedules of two round trips with various combinations of departure times were in effect on all other days during the operating season, except that there was no service on May 30 and 31, June 4 through 6, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays after September 5, or on September 24 and 27, and October 1.
In 2019, only the yellow schedule with three round trips and the orange and blue schedules with two round trips were to be in effect. Most departure times in these schedules were the same as in 2018, except that the first Oak Bluffs departure in the yellow schedule changed from 10:30 AM to 10:45 AM, and the first Oak Bluffs departure in the blue schedule changed from 11:00 AM to 11:40 AM.
In 2019, the yellow schedule was in effect on the three days corresponding with the days when the green schedule was in effect in 2018. In June 2019, the orange schedule was in effect on the days corresponding with the days when the pink schedule was in effect in 2018, but in May and September 2019, the yellow schedule replaced the pink schedule.
In 2019, no service was scheduled on the second Monday and the second and third Tuesdays and Wednesdays in June, or on the first Thursday in October, whereas the blue or orange schedules had been in effect on those days in 2018. In 2019, the blue schedule replaced the yellow schedule on June 27, July 2 and 11, on all Mondays in August, and on August 6, 7, 13, and 14, but the yellow replaced the blue schedule on the last Thursday in August. No service was scheduled on October 7, 2019. The operating season was extended by one week with the orange schedule in effect on October 10 to 14 except for October 11 when the yellow schedule applied.
Service on this route is provided by the high-speed catamaran Ava Pearl. This vessel has a capacity of 149 passengers and a top speed of 33 knots.
Fares on this route are not regulated. In 2018, for passengers making advance reservations adult fares were $56.00 one way or $89.00 round trip; for children ages 12 or younger, fares were $44.00 one way or $66.00 round trip; and for passengers age 60 or older, fares are were $50.00 one way or $84.00 round trip. For passengers without reservations, $5.00 was added to all the fares listed above. Certain trips, not specified on the company website in 2018, were designated peak-travel trips. (In prior years these were mostly selected Friday, Saturday, or Sunday trips in July through September.) For these trips, the fares each way in all categories were $7.50 higher than the off-peak fares. In addition to these fares, Rhode Island Fast Ferry collected an embarkation fee of 50 cents for the Town of Oak Bluffs from each passenger boarding there.
All fares in 2019 were the same as in 2018.
Seasonal weekend and holiday service from New Jersey and New York City to the Steamship Authority terminals in Oak Bluffs and Nantucket is operated by Seastreak, LLC. This route starts at Conner’s Highlands Terminal in Highlands, New Jersey, makes an intermediate stop at the East 35th Street Pier on the East River in Manhattan, then runs nonstop to Oak Bluffs and continues to Nantucket.
The 2018 schedule showed service beginning on Memorial Day weekend with a trip to the islands on Friday, May 25, returning to New York and New Jersey on Monday, May 28. After that, service was scheduled to run to the islands every Friday from June 1 to August 31, and from the islands every Sunday from June 3 to August 26, and on Monday, September 3. An additional trip to the islands was scheduled to leave from New York and New Jersey on Tuesday, July 3, returning on Wednesday, July 4.
On all dates of operation scheduled departure times were 2:30 PM from Highlands, New Jersey, and 4:00 PM from East 35th Street, with arrivals at 9:15 PM at Oak Bluffs and 10:15 PM at Nantucket. Except on July 4, scheduled return times were 2:30 PM from Nantucket and 4:00 PM from Oak Bluffs with arrivals at East 35th Street at 9:15 PM and at Highlands at 10:15 PM. The July 4 trip left Nantucket at 9:00 AM and Oak Bluffs at 10:00 AM and was due at East 35th Street at 3:15 PM and at Highlands at 4:15 PM.
The same schedule was published for 2019, except that departure times for the special July 4 trip were changed to 8:45 AM from Nantucket and 10:15 AM from Oak Bluffs.
Before 2018, service was provided with one of four high-speed catamarans from the Seastreak fleet that have capacities of 405 passengers, top speeds of 42 knots, and cruising speeds of 38 knots. The vessel often assigned to this service was the Seastreak Wall Street. Starting in 2018, service was run with the newly acquired high-speed catamaran Commodore, which has a capacity of 600 passengers. This vessel has a top speed of 40 knots.
Fares on this route are not regulated. In 2018, except on holiday weekends and the extra July 3 and 4 trips, fares between New Jersey or New York City and Oak Bluffs were $165.00 one way or $240.00 round trip for adults and $75.00 one way or $135.00 round trip for children ages three through 12.On all trips on the Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends, the weekend before July 4, and the extra July 3 and 4 trips, fares were raised to $200.00 one way or $310.00 round trip for adults or children. All fares between New York and New Jersey and Nantucket were $10.00 more one-way or $20.00 more round trip than the Martha’s Vineyard fares. From these fares, Seastreak was required to pay an embarkation fee of 50 cents per passenger to the Town of Oak Bluffs or the Town of Nantucket.
All fares in 2019 were the same as in 2018.
Viking Fleet operates one round trip each summer from Montauk, New York, to Oak Bluffs. This trip is run as the first and last legs of an annual whale watch excursion from Montauk to the Great South Channel, an undersea canyon between Nantucket Shoals and Georges Bank. The full excursion is sponsored by the Coastal Research and Education Society of Long Island (CRESLI). However, Viking Fleet markets the segment between Montauk and Oak Bluffs separately as a means of traveling to Martha’s Vineyard for a brief vacation. In Montauk the departure point is the Viking Dock at 462 Westlake Drive. At Oak Bluffs, the vessel docks at the town landing.
The one annual trip in 2018 departed from Montauk on Sunday, August 12, at 6:30 PM and was due at Oak Bluffs at 12:30 AM on August 13. The return trip was scheduled to leave Oak Bluffs at 4:30 PM on Tuesday, August 14, and arrive back in Montauk at 9:30 PM.
In 2019, the departure from Montauk is scheduled for Sunday, August 11, and the departure from Oak Bluffs is scheduled for Tuesday, August 13.
The vessel used for this trip in 2018 was the Viking Starship, a 140-foot monohull licensed to carry 300 passengers. This vessel is usually used on long fishing excursions, and is equipped with 65 navy-style bunks in addition to various types of seating.
Fares on this route are not regulated. Adult fares for the Montauk–Oak Bluffs segment of the trip were $70.00 one way or $120.00 round trip. Fares for children ages five to 12 were $40.00 one way or $70.00 round trip. For passengers making the full round trip to the Great South Channel without stopping at Oak Bluffs, tickets had to be purchased from CRESLI. The fares for that trip were $275.00 for members or $300 for non-members, with half fares for children ages six through 12 and free for children younger than age six.
The Menemsha Bike Ferry crosses Menemsha Creek, which separates the villages of Menemsha and Aquinnah on Martha’s Vineyard. The Menemsha dock is near the intersection of North Road and Edy’s Island Way. The Aquinnah dock is near the eastern end of West Basin Road. The straight-line distance between the terminals is approximately 600 feet.
The Bike Ferry is owned and operated by Hugh and Jeanne Taylor, owners of the Outermost Inn in Aquinnah. The ferry was first established in the 1990s.
The ferry runs on call, from mid-May to mid-October each year. It usually runs daily from late June through Labor Day but only on weekends earlier and later in the season.
The vessel is a 25-foot pontoon boat. The fare each way is $5.00.
Ferry service to the island of Nantucket is provided by the Steamship Authority (SSA) and by four private operators. Information on the statutory relationship between the SSA and private operators is discussed in Section 5 under service to Martha’s Vineyard.
The SSA operates two services between terminals it owns in Hyannis and Nantucket. The Traditional service runs year-round and transports both passengers and vehicles. The High-Speed service runs for part of the year, carrying only passengers in a high-speed catamaran.
In 2018, the SSA had two schedules for the Traditional service. From January 1 through May 22, May 29 through June 18, and October 23 through December 31, there were three round trips each day. Departures were at 9:15 AM, 2:45 PM, and 8:00 PM from Hyannis and at 6:30 AM, 12:00 PM, and 5:30 PM from Nantucket.
From May 23 through May 28 and June 19 through October 22, six round trips were provided daily. This schedule included all of the trips in the three-round-trip schedule and additional departures from Hyannis at 6:30 AM, 12:00 PM, and 5:30 PM, and from Nantucket at 9:15 AM, 2:45 PM, and 8:00 PM. The scheduled travel time for each trip was two hours and 15 minutes each way.
The High-Speed service to Nantucket was scheduled to operate on January 1 and 2, and from April 2 through December 31. Before May 11 and after October 22, there were four scheduled round trips daily. Departures were at 8:15 AM, 11:00 AM, 2:00 PM, and 5:00 PM from Hyannis and at 9:30 AM, 12:30 PM, 3:30 PM, and 6:15 PM from Nantucket. From May 11 through October 22, a fifth daily round trip was scheduled, leaving Hyannis at 7:30 PM and Nantucket at 8:45 PM. The scheduled travel time for all the High-Speed trips was one hour each way.
Published schedules for the Traditional and High-Speed Ferry service for 2019 showed no changes from 2018 other than slight adjustments in the starting date of each seasonal schedule change.
In 2018, the SSA’s Traditional service to Nantucket required two vessels during the peak summer schedule. These usually were the Eagle and the Woods Hole. The Eagle has a top speed of approximately 14.5 knots and a capacity of 768 persons (including passengers and crew) and 52 vehicles. The Woods Hole has a top speed of approximately 15 knots and a capacity of 453 persons and 55 standard-size vehicles or 10 freight trucks.
The schedule used before June 19, except from May 23 to May 28, required only one vessel. This was usually the Eagle alternating with the Nantucket. The latter vessel has a capacity of 768 persons (including passengers and crew) and 50 vehicles and has a top speed of approximately 14 knots. Both of these vessels were scheduled for service from May 23 to May 28. After October 22, only one vessel was required, and the Nantucket was scheduled to make all trips.
The regular schedules of the vessels listed above were supplemented by the operation of the Gay Head, with a top speed of 13.5 knots. It is designed mainly for transporting freight in trucks, but is licensed to carry 147 persons and 39 vehicles.
All of the High-Speed service trips were provided by the Iyanough, a catamaran with a cruising speed of 35 knots and a capacity of 400 persons (including passengers and crew).
As discussed in greater detail in Section 5 under Martha’s Vineyard service, the Steamship Authority sets its own fares. In 2018, one-way fares on the Traditional Nantucket service were $18.50 for adults, $9.50 for children ages five to 12, and free for children younger than age five. No round-trip discounts were offered. Rates for transporting vehicles between Hyannis and Nantucket varied by season and by vehicle size. The Steamship Authority is the only vessel operator serving Nantucket that transports both passengers and vehicles.
On the High-Speed service, one-way fares were $36.50 for adults, $18.75 for children ages five to 12, and free for children younger than age five. Unrestricted round-trip fares were $69.00 for adults and $35.00 for children. Same day round-trip fares valid only Monday through Thursday were $50.00 for adults and $25.00 for children. From all fares, the SSA was required to pay embarkation fees of 50 cents per passenger to the Towns of Barnstable and Nantucket.
There were no changes in Traditional or High-Speed fares in 2019 compared with 2018.
Until 2015, Hyannis Harbor Tours, Inc., doing business as Hy-Line Cruises, operated Traditional Ferry service and High-Speed Ferry service between the Hy-Line terminal in Hyannis and Straight Wharf in Nantucket. Starting in 2016, Hy-line operated only High-Speed service but increased the frequency of that service during the months when the Traditional Service formerly operated.
Hy-Line operated High-Speed service year-round in 2018, but schedules varied by time of year. The basic schedule, in effect from January 1 through April 26, April 30 through May 10, October 23 through November 29, and December 3 through December 31 provided five daily round trips. Departures were at 6:10 AM, 9:05 AM, 11:55 AM, 3:05 PM, and 7:00 PM from Hyannis and at 7:40 AM, 10:30 AM, 1:20 PM, 4:35 PM, and 8:20 PM from Nantucket. The scheduled trip time was one hour each way.
For the Nantucket Daffodil Festival on April 27, 28, and 29, and for the Nantucket Christmas Stroll on November 30 and December 1 and 2, the schedule expanded to seven, eight, or nine round trips per day. No service was scheduled for Christmas Day.
From May 11 to September 3, service expanded to eight daily round trips, leaving Hyannis at 6:10 AM, 9:30 AM, 11:20 AM, 12:45 PM, 2:25 PM, 4:15 PM, 5:40 PM, and 8:00 PM. Departures from Nantucket were at 7:40 AM, 11:10 AM, 12:50 PM, 2:15 PM, 4:10 PM, 5:45 PM, 7:05 PM, and 9:20 PM. A ninth round trip that left Hyannis at 8:30 AM and Nantucket at 9:55 AM ran only on Fridays, Sundays, and the Saturday and Monday of Memorial Day weekend from May 18 to June 8, but it ran daily from June 9 to September 3. On Fridays the departures times of the last trip of the day changed to 8:40 PM from Hyannis and 10:00 PM from Nantucket.
From September 4 to October 22, the schedule was almost the same as the one from June 9 to September 3. The trip leaving Hyannis at 8:30 AM and Nantucket at 9:55 AM ran only on Saturdays, Sundays, and the Friday and Monday of Columbus Day weekend. The departure times of the late afternoon round trip were changed from 4:15 PM to 3:45 PM from Hyannis and from 5:45 PM to 5:15 PM from Nantucket. The trip leaving Hyannis at 8:00 PM and Nantucket at 9:20 PM ran only on Fridays.
Except for slight changes in the spans of seasonal schedules and increased service frequencies for the Daffodil Festival and Christmas Stroll, schedules in 2019 were the same as in 2018.
The basic schedule of five round trips per day in 2018 required only one vessel, but the schedules with additional trips required two vessels. These were the high-speed catamarans Grey Lady, which has a capacity of 300 passengers and a cruising speed of approximately 30 knots, and Grey Lady IV, which also has a cruising speed of approximately 30 knots, but has a capacity of 493 passengers.
Fares on the Hy-Line High-Speed Ferry to Nantucket in 2018 were $41.00 one way or $77.00 round trip for adults and $29.00 one way or $51.00 round trip for children ages five through 12. Children younger than age five rode free. On the Grey Lady IV, limited seating at the front of the second deck, identified as Captain’s View, was available for $44.00 one way or $83.00 round trip before April 26 and after October 8. From April 26 through October 8 and also during the April Daffodil Festival and Christmas Stroll days, Captain’s View fares increased to $48.00 one way or $89.00 round trip. From all fares, Hy-Line was required to pay embarkation fees of 50 cents per passenger to the Towns of Barnstable and Nantucket.
Fares in 2019 were the same as in 2018, except that the higher Captain’s View rates were in effect through October 23.
Freedom Cruise Line, Inc. operates seasonal service from Saquatucket Harbor in Harwich Port to Straight Wharf on Nantucket. Fares, schedules, and vessels used on this route are subject to approval of the Steamship Authority.
The 2018 operating season ran from May 25 to October 8. The schedule in effect on Memorial Day Weekend provided two round trips leaving Harwich Port at 8:50 AM and 12:20 PM and leaving Nantucket at 10:30 AM and 4:10 PM on May 25 and May 28. On May 26 and 27, only the 8:50 AM Harwich Port and 4:10 PM Nantucket departures were scheduled. The service with only the 8:50 AM Harwich and 4:10 PM Nantucket trips was also scheduled from June 5 through June 27 and from September 4 through October 8. There was no service scheduled from May 29 through June 4.
The schedule in effect from June 28 through September 3 provided three daily round trips, departing Harwich Port at 8:00 AM, 11:30 AM, and 5:45 PM, and leaving Nantucket at 9:30 AM, 4:10 PM, and 7:30 PM. Scheduled trip times were 80 minutes in each direction on all trips throughout the operating season.
Schedules in 2019 were the same as in 2018, except that the fall schedule in 2019 was extended through October 14,
The usual vessel on this route was the M.V. Freedom, with a capacity of 80 passengers and a cruising speed of 20 knots.
Fares in 2018 were $39.00 one way or $76.00 round trip for adults. For children ages two through 10, fares were $29.00 one way or $51.00 round trip. For children younger than age two the fare was $5.00 one way or $9.00 round trip. From these fares, Freedom Cruise Line was required to pay embarkation fees of 50 cents per passenger to the Towns of Harwich and Nantucket.
In 2019 adult fares were increased to $41.00 one way or $77.00 round trip. Children’s fares did not change.
Seastreak, LLC operates unsubsidized seasonal service from the State Pier in New Bedford to the Steamship Authority terminal at Nantucket. This route was established in 2016. Fares, schedules, and vessels used on the route are subject to approval of the Steamship Authority.
The 2018 season ran from May 17 to October 8. The base service offered two round trips per day, but there were several variations in departure times partly necessitated by variation in the schedules of other lines sharing the terminals. The scheduled trip time between New Bedford and Nantucket ranged from one hour and 35 minutes to two hours and 15 minutes in each direction. The longest trip times were for trips stopping at Oak Bluffs on the way to Nantucket.
From May 17 to May 19, scheduled departure times were 9:00 AM and 3:00 PM from New Bedford and 11:00 AM and 5:00 PM from Nantucket. On May 20 only, the second round trip ran two hours earlier in each direction.
From May 21 to May 24, from May 29 to June 17, and from September 4 to October 8, scheduled departures were at 9:00 AM and 2:00 PM from New Bedford and at 11:30 AM and 4:30 PM from Nantucket. These trips were extensions of two round trips on the New Bedford–Oak Bluffs route. However, the Steamship Authority does not allow Seastreak to carry passengers traveling only between the two islands, because the Hy-Line serves that route.
From May 25 to May 28 and on Mondays through Thursdays and Saturdays from June 18 to September 2, scheduled departures were at 8:30 AM and 3:40 PM from New Bedford and at 11:00 AM and 6:00 PM from Nantucket, except that on Memorial Day, May 28, the first trip left New Bedford 30 minutes earlier and left Nantucket one hour earlier.
From June 18 to September 2, Friday and Sunday departures were scheduled for 8:00 AM, 1:00 PM, and 6:00 PM from New Bedford and at 10:30 AM, 3:30 PM, and 8:30 PM and from Nantucket. This schedule was also used in place of the regular weekday schedule on July 3, 4, and 5. A slightly modified version of this schedule was used on Labor Day, with the first of the three round trips scheduled for one hour and 35 minutes each way, and the Nantucket departure at 10:00 AM instead of 10:30 AM.
The published schedule for 2019 shows several changes from 2018. Most of these are revisions to departure times rather than frequencies. However, from June 19 to September 3, a three-round-trip schedule is shown for Friday only rather than Friday and Sunday.
Two new services are to be added in 2019. One of these consists of two round trips per day between New Bedford and Nantucket from November 27 to December 1 for Thanksgiving. These are to be extensions of the new Thanksgiving service from New Bedford to Oak Bluffs. The other new service consists of two round trips per day between New Bedford and Nantucket from December 6 to 8 and one round trip on December 9 for the Nantucket Christmas Stroll.
All of the 2018 schedules on the New Bedford–Nantucket route could be operated with one vessel. The vessels on the Seastreak routes from New Bedford to Oak Bluffs and to Nantucket were usually the Seastreak Whaling City Express and the Seastreak Martha’s Vineyard Express. Both vessels have a capacity of 149 passengers and a top speed of 29 knots.
In 2019, the Seastreak Martha’s Vineyard was leased to the North Carolina Department of Transportation and was replaced on the routes from New Bedford to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket by the former Seastreak Wall Street, renamed Seastreak Nantucket Express. This 405-passenger vessel with a top speed of 42 knots was previously assigned to New York Harbor commuter service but also served the route from New York and New Jersey to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket in past years.
In 2018, adult fares for trips between New Bedford and Nantucket were $50.00 one way, $70.00 for a same-day round trip, or $90.00 for a round trip returning on a different day. For children ages three through 12, the fare was $30.00 one way or for a same-day round trip, or $50.00 for a round trip returning on a different day. For Nantucket residents and military personnel there were discounted fares of $40.00 one way but no additional discounts on round trips.
All fares in 2019 were the same as in 2018.
Cuttyhunk is the westernmost island in the Elizabeth Islands chain on Vineyard Sound and it is part of the Town of Gosnold. The 2010 US Census showed a total population of 75 for Gosnold, and Cuttyhunk is the only island with permanent residents in the town. Year-round scheduled service from New Bedford to Cuttyhunk is provided by one private company. Another private company operates on-demand water taxi service between these two areas.
Year-round ferry service from the State Pier in New Bedford to Cuttyhunk is operated by the privately owned Cuttyhunk Ferry Company. Schedules vary by time of year.
Currently, the scheduled one-way trip time on all trips between New Bedford and Cuttyhunk is one hour.
In 2018, the schedule in effect before April 14 and after October 14 provided service on Mondays and Fridays only, leaving New Bedford at 9:00 AM and Cuttyhunk at 2:00 PM.
The schedule in effect from April 14 through May 24 provided service on Sunday, Monday, Friday, and Saturday only, leaving New Bedford at 9:00 AM and Cuttyhunk at 3:00 PM. This schedule was also in effect from September 24 to October 14, but with additional Friday trips from New Bedford at 6:00 PM and from Cuttyhunk at 7:00 PM through October 5. On Columbus Day, there were additional trips from Cuttyhunk at 11:00 AM and from New Bedford at 12:00 PM.
The schedule in effect from May 25 through June 15 provided daily departures from New Bedford at 9:00 AM and from Cuttyhunk at 3:00 PM. On Fridays only, this schedule provided additional departures from New Bedford at 6:00 PM and from Cuttyhunk at 7:00 PM. On Memorial Day, additional trips left Cuttyhunk at 11:00 AM and New Bedford at 1:00 PM.
The schedule in effect from June 16 through September 3 included daily departures from New Bedford at 9:00 AM, with additional departures at 2:30 PM on Sundays, at 1:00 PM on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, and at 7:00 PM on Fridays. Return departure times from Cuttyhunk in this schedule were at 4:00 PM Monday through Saturday and at 12:00 PM and 5:00 PM on Sundays, with additional trips at 11:00 AM on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, and at 8:00 PM on Fridays. On Labor Day, added trips were scheduled from Cuttyhunk at 12:00 PM and from New Bedford at 2:00 PM.
From September 4 through September 23, the schedule was the same as from May 25 through June 15, but included a third round trip on Fridays, leaving New Bedford at 12:30 PM and Cuttyhunk at 3:00 PM.
The published schedules for 2019 show the same service as in 2018, except that in 2019 the spring schedule went into effect on April 20 instead of April 14.
All service on this route is provided by the M.V. Cuttyhunk, a 149-passenger monohull vessel with a cruising speed of 16 knots.
Fares on this route are not regulated. One-way fares in 2018 were $28.00 for adults or $23.00 for children ages two through 12. Children younger than age two rode free, Round-trip fares valid only for same-day travel were $45.00 for adults or $35.00 for children. Ten-ride commuter passes were also available for $250.00. The same fares applied in 2019.
Triton Sea Enterprises, Inc. provides water taxi service from Fisherman’s Wharf in New Bedford to Cuttyhunk under the name Cuttyhunk Water Taxi. The one-way trip time from New Bedford to Cuttyhunk is approximately one hour. Trips must be booked in advance by telephone.
All service on this route is provided by the Seahorse, an 18-passenger monohull vessel with a cruising speed of 17 to 20 knots.
Fares on this service are not regulated and are based on the number of passengers per trip. In 2018, for five or more passengers the one-way fare was $35.00 per passenger, except for children younger than age 12, whose fare was $20.00 each. For four passengers the rate was $45.00 each. For three passengers the rate was $60.00 each. For two passengers the rate was $90.00 each. For one passenger the rate was $175.00. Special fares could be arranged for passengers making more than two trips on the same day.
Cuttyhunk Water Taxi also advertised service from New Bedford to Menemsha village in the town of Chilmark on Martha’s Vineyard. However, the rates for this service were not published. These trips would require a travel time of approximately 90 minutes to cover the longer distance, as compared with the service to Cuttyhunk.
In 2019, the information on the Cuttyhunk Water Taxi website was the same as in 2018.
Seasonal ferry service is provided to eight of the islands in the Boston Harbor Islands National Park from Boston or from other points along Massachusetts Bay.
Boston Harbor Cruises operates ferry service between Long Wharf in Boston and Spectacle and Georges Islands by arrangement with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation and the Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park. In 2018, this service ran from May 19 to October 8. BHC took over operation of this service in 2014 from Water Transportation Alternatives, doing business as Boston’s Best Cruises, which had been the operator since 2004. BHC did not acquire any of the vessels used by Boston’s Best Cruises for Harbor Islands service, and revised the operating strategy to provide fewer trips using larger vessels.
In 2018, the spring schedule, in effect May 19 and 20 and from May 26 to June 21, was the same as the fall schedule, in effect from September 4 to October 8. These schedules provided daily departures from Long Wharf for Georges Island at 10:00 AM, 12:00 PM, and 2:00 PM, and a trip at 4:00 PM that did not allow passengers to stop over on the island. Return trips left Georges Island at 11:00 AM, 1:00 PM, 3:00 PM, and 5:00 PM. Scheduled trip times were 50 minutes each way.
The spring and fall Spectacle Island service schedule had departures from Long Wharf on weekends only, at 11:00 AM, 1:00 PM, and 3:00 PM. Return trips left Spectacle Island one hourly later. Scheduled trip times were 30 minutes each way.
Summer schedules on both routes were in effect from June 22 to September 3. On weekdays, the Georges Island service was the same as in the spring and fall schedules. On weekends there were hourly departures from Long Wharf from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM and a trip at 4:00 PM that did not allow passengers to stop over on the island. Return trips left Georges Island hourly from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
The Spectacle Island summer schedule had daily departures from Long Wharf at 9:00 AM and 10:30 AM and then every two hours until 4:30 PM. Spectacle Island departures were every two hours from 11:30 AM to 5:30 PM.
In the summer schedule, the service described above was supplemented by a loop route based at Long Wharf and circulating among Spectacle, Georges, Lovells, and Peddocks Islands. The vessel serving this route provided the 9:00 AM departure from Long Wharf to Spectacle Island. During the day, it stopped two more times at Spectacle Island, four times each at Georges and Peddocks Islands, and three times at Lovells Island. Final arrival back at Long Wharf was scheduled for 5:00 PM.
A separate loop route in the summer schedule based at the Hingham commuter boat terminal is described in Section 8.2
In schedules published for service in 2019 from Long Wharf to Georges Island and Spectacle Island, the only changes from 2018 are that the operating season for both routes is to be extended to October 14, and the trip leaving Long Wharf at 4:00 PM and Georges Island at 5:00 PM is to run only on weekends through June 20 and then daily for the rest of the season. The schedule for the route circulating between Spectacle, Georges, Peddocks and Lovells Islands in 2019 showed no changes from 2018.
Vessels used on the routes described above were drawn from the Boston Harbor Cruises monohull fleet, with the assigned vessels varying depending on anticipated demand. Vessels frequently appearing on the route from Long Wharf to Georges Island were the 530-passenger Fort Independence and the 520-passenger Brant Point. Vessels on the route from Long Wharf to Spectacle Island included the Ruth E. Hughes and the Regency, each with capacities of 350 passengers, and the 149-passenger Rookie. Vessels used on the loop route between Long Wharf, Georges Island, Spectacle Island, and Peddocks Island included the Claire and the Michael B. Meli, each with capacities of 149 passengers.
Only round-trip fares are sold for service to the Harbor Islands. In 2018, fares were $19.95 for adults, $14.95 for seniors, and $12.95 for children ages three through 11. Children younger than age three rode for free. Four-person family fares were available for $49.00. Ten-ride passes were $150.00 and season passes were $225.00. There were no changes in these fares in 2019.
During summer months, selected trips on the MBTA’s Hingham/Hull/Logan Airport commuter boat route make an intermediate stop at Georges Island. These stops are intended to serve passengers traveling between the island and Hingham rather than between the island and Boston. In 2018, a separate loop route in the summer schedule based at the Hingham commuter boat terminal provided connections to five of the Harbor Islands on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
Added stops at Georges Island on the Hingham–Long Wharf commuter boat route were in effect from May 26 through October 8, 2018. On weekdays, two inbound (from Hingham) trips and two outbound trips stopped at Georges Island. The outbound trips also stopped at Hull, but the inbound trips did not. Stops at the island were drop-off-only inbound and pick-up-only outbound.
On weekend days during the same operating spans, five inbound and four outbound trips stopped at Georges Island. However, none of the trips that stopped at the island stopped at Hull.
On the loop route from Hingham and Hull to the harbor islands, a vessel left Hingham on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 8:45 AM and finally arrived back at Hingham at 6:05 PM. During the day, it stopped at Bumpkin Island twice, at Grape Island and Lovells Island three times each, at Peddocks Island four times, and at Georges Island five times. It also returned to Hingham three times between the first departure and the last arrival.
Georges Island provided a transfer point between all of the various harbor islands routes operated by Boston Harbor Cruises.
The 2019 schedule for this route showed no changes from the 2018 schedule, except that in addition to service on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, there was to be service on Labor Day in 2019.
The vessels usually assigned to the Hingham/Hull—Long Wharf route were the MBTA-owned Flying Cloud, Lightning, Champion, and Glory, which are all high-speed catamarans with capacities of 149 passengers each. Other catamarans from the BHC fleet were substituted as needed, including the 250-passenger Cetacea and the 350-passenger Sanctuary (formerly the Voyager III). Vessels on the five-island route included the 70-passenger monohull William F. Lisk.
Fares on the routes from Hingham to the Harbor Islands in 2018 were the same as those on the route from Long Wharf, presented in Section 8.1.4 above. Free transfers between the Long Wharf route and the Hingham route at Georges Island were allowed.
On summer weekends, ferry service open to the general public is operated from the EDIC Pier in South Boston (on the Reserved Channel near the Summer Street Bridge) to Thompson Island. This service is provided by the Thompson Island Outward Bound Education Center. The EDIC Pier is named for the former Boston Economic Development Industrial Corporation, which was succeeded in 1993 by the Economic Development Division of the Boston Redevelopment Authority, now known as the Boston Planning and Development Agency.
Service in 2018 was provided from May 26 to September 2. On Saturdays, departures from the EDIC Pier were at 8:00 AM, 12:00 PM, and 2:30 PM and departures from Thompson Island were at 11:30 AM, 2:00 PM, and 4:30 PM. On Sundays, the 2:00 PM trip from Thompson Island and the 2:30 PM trip from the EDIC Pier were omitted. Scheduled trip times were 25 minutes each way. The same schedule has been published for 2019.
The usual vessel on this route is the Outward Bound, with a capacity of 149 passengers and a top speed of 11 knots.
Fares in 2018 were $17.00 for adults and $10.00 for children ages three through 12. Children younger than age three rode for free.
In past years, tours of Boston Light on Little Brewster Island were scheduled to take place on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from mid-June to early October. However, because of storm damage to the island in the winter of 2018, there was no public access in 2018, and no public access is expected in 2019.
Past service to Little Brewster Island was provided by the M/V Columbia Point, owned and operated by the Marine Operations Division of the University of Massachusetts, Boston. This vessel has a capacity of 110 passengers, but tours were limited to 50 passengers because of the small amount of walkable space on the island and the time required for visitors to climb and descend from the light tower. The Boston departure point for the tours was the south side of Central Wharf beside the New England Aquarium.
In 2018, the Town of Winthrop provided one round-trip to Spectacle Island from Winthrop and from Squantum Point Park in Quincy on Saturdays from June 23 to October 6 by a variation of its route between Winthrop, Quincy, and Central Wharf. Details about the overall schedule of this route and the vessels used are included in Section 3.2.
The trip leaving Winthrop at 10:00 AM and Quincy at 10:30 AM dropped off passengers at Spectacle Island at 10:50 AM. The vessel stopped again at Spectacle Island at 2:50 PM to pick up passengers to drop off at Quincy at 3:10 PM or Winthrop at 3:30 PM. The round trip fare between either Winthrop or Quincy and the island was $17.00 for adults, $13.00 for seniors, and $6.00 for children ages five through 12. The 2019 summer schedule for the Winthrop ferry had not yet been published as of mid-May 2019.
The service provided by water taxis is intended mainly to transport passengers between origins and destinations that are within walking distance of their boarding and alighting stops. Therefore, in most cases, availability of parking facilities or transit connections at water taxi stops is not a consideration, except for trips to or from Logan International Airport. There are some office buildings and hotels near the airport landing, but most passengers going to or from the airport terminals use free shuttle buses provided by the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport).
Boston Harbor Cruises bought out City Water Taxi, “the Checkerboard Fleet,” in 2014, when the water taxi company founder retired. BHC Water Taxi, the name under which Boston Harbor Cruises markets this service, now operates on-demand water taxis in Boston’s inner harbor year-round. In 2018, BHC Water Taxi advertised service to 26 stops, including 10 on the downtown Boston waterfront, seven in South Boston, five in Charlestown, and four in East Boston, including Logan International Airport.
Service was available year round, except on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day, from 6:30 AM to 10:00 PM Monday through Saturday and from 6:30 AM to 8:00 PM Sunday. From June 8 through September 4, hours were extended to 11:00 PM Thursday through Saturday and to 10:00 PM on Sunday.
One-way fares were $12.00 for adults, $2.00 for children ages three through 11, and free for children younger than age three. A $2.00 discount on adult fares was available to any passenger with a ticket on the same day for any other BHC service, including MBTA commuter boats. Ten-ride tickets that could be used by two passengers traveling together were priced at $100.00. These tickets had no expiration date and were non-transferable. Passes valid for unlimited rides during the month of purchase were $350.00. These passes were non-transferable.
In 2018, the BHC water taxi fleet had fifteen vessels. Alix, Andrea, Bonnie, Flo, Gina, Li, Lynda, Paula, Tamara, and Vivien Li were certified for a maximum of 21 passengers each, but BHC policy limited them to 14 passengers at a time for greater comfort. The vessels II, III, V, VIII, and X, which BHC acquired in 2017, were certified for 39 or 40 passengers each.
Operating hours in 2019 were the same as in 2018, but one-way fares were increased to $15.00 for adults and $3.00 for children.
Rowes Wharf Water Transport (RWWT), also known as Rowes Wharf Water Taxi, operates on-demand water taxi service in Boston’s inner harbor. A map on the RWWT website in 2018 showed 18 stops, including seven on the downtown Boston waterfront, five in South Boston, four in Charlestown, and two in East Boston, including Logan International Airport. Other stops listed on the website (but not shown on the map) were the Black Falcon Cruise Ship Terminal and the Chelsea Yacht Club. Most stops served by RWWT were also served by BHC Water Taxi, but some of the RWWT’s stops at the downtown Boston waterfront differed slightly from the BHC’s stops.
In 2018, RWWT service hours before May 1 and after October 31 were 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM daily. Between May 1 and October 31 on Monday through Saturday hours were extended to 10:00 PM. The basic RWWT fare in 2018 was $12.00 one way or $20.00 round trip. For trips to or from the Black Falcon Cruise Terminal or stops in Charlestown fares were $15.00 one way or $25.00 round trip.
RWWT vessels used in water taxi service in 2018 included Rowes Wharf Water Taxi and an unnamed vessel, each of which had maximum capacities of approximately 25 passengers.
In 2019, the span of service hours before May 1 and after October 31 were reduced to 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM daily. Fares were the same as in 2018.
The Boston Harbor Shuttle’s service was included in the 2013 inventory. The company discontinued operation of its fixed-route scheduled service in 2014.
On July 4, 2018, the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) opened a seasonal auxiliary gallery, called Watershed, in a former warehouse in East Boston. The ICA contracted with Boston Harbor Cruises to provide ferry service between the Fan Pier Water Taxi wharf adjacent to the ICA main location in South Boston and the wharf at the Piers Park Sailing Center in East Boston.
The 2018 operating season for this ferry ran until Columbus Day, except on Mondays, when the Watershed was not open. (Columbus Day was the only Monday when the Watershed was open.) During July and August, the schedule for Tuesday through Friday listed hourly departures from Fan Pier from 10:15 AM to 4:15 PM, with arrival at Piers Park 15 minutes after departure times. Departures from Piers Park were hourly from 10:45 AM to 4:45 PM. On Saturdays and Sundays, departures were scheduled from Fan Pier every 30 minutes from 10:15 AM to 4:45 PM and from Piers Park 30 minutes after those departure times.
From September 4 through Columbus Day the schedules were revised slightly, with all trips departing from each end of the route 15 minutes later than in July and August.
No fares were charged for the ferry, but only ICA members or members of the general public paying for ICA admission on the same day were allowed to ride the ferry. Advance reservations were required because of the limited capacities of the boats.
The weekday schedule required only one vessel; the weekend schedule required two vessels. The vessels assigned included the water taxis V and VIII with capacities of 40 and 39 passengers, respectively. BHC acquired these vessels used from Island Navigation of Catalina Island, California in 2017.
Schedules for the ICA Watershed Ferry for 2019 had not yet been published as of mid-May 2019.
From mid-May to Columbus Day, Harbor Tours, Inc., of Cape Ann operates a shuttle boat loop in Gloucester Harbor serving five stops: Captain Solomon Jacob’s Park Landing, Saint Peter’s Park Town Landing, Rocky Neck, and upon request Cripple Cove Landing, and Cruiseport Gloucester. The full loop takes approximately one hour, with one boat making continuous trips during hours of operation.
In 2018, service ran on weekends only from mid-May to mid-June and after Labor Day. Daily service was provided from mid-June to Labor Day. On each service day, the first departure from Jacob’s Park Landing was at 12:00 PM. During seasons with weekend-only service, the last departure was at 3:00 PM and the final arrival was at approximately 4:00 PM. In the summer when daily service was operated, the last departure was at 5:00 PM.
Published schedules for spring, summer, and fall 2019 show the same operating days and hours as in the corresponding seasons in 2018.
The usual boat for this service is the M/V Lady Jillian, a 38-foot pontoon water taxi with a cruising speed of 10 knots, licensed to carry 42 passengers.
Fares in 2018 were $10.00 for adults or $5.00 for children ages six through 12, and allowed for unlimited stops all day. For a single ride between any two stops, the fares were half of these rates. Non-transferable season passes were also advertised at $60.00 for adults or $120.00 for a family, but availability was limited. The same fares were published for 2019.
In the summer of 2016, Boston Harbor Cruises implemented a Salem Harbor Shuttle for the first time. The shuttle was based at Blaney Street Wharf, the terminal of the Boston–Salem Ferry. The other stops listed were Congress Street (on the South River), Winter Island (on the southeast side of Salem Neck) and Salem Willows (on the northeast side of Salem Neck).
During the summers of 2016 and 2017, the Salem Harbor shuttle operated on a fixed schedule. The 2016 season ran from July 16 to September 3. The 2017 schedule ran from an unspecified date in June until Labor Day.
In 2016 and 2017, the schedule called for seven daily departures from Blaney Street between 9:00 AM and 7:00 PM at intervals ranging from one hour to two hours and 15 minutes. These trips included some that provided connections to or from the Boston–Salem ferries. All trips stopped at Congress Street, however the 7:00 PM trip ran only on demand. Four of the trips served Winter Island, and three of these also served Salem Willows. The order in which stops were served varied among trips, and stop-to-stop travel times were not specified.
In 2018, the scheduled service on the Salem Harbor Shuttle was replaced with on-call service, with the same stops available as in 2016 and 2017, and again operating from June to Labor Day. In addition, there was one scheduled trip per day each way between the Village Street Dock in Marblehead and Blaney Street Wharf in Salem, leaving Marblehead at 6:45 AM and leaving Salem at 6:30 PM. These trips were timed to connect with the inbound AM and outbound PM commuter trips on the Boston–Salem ferry. Marblehead had not been served during the first two years of the Salem Shuttle, but was included in the on-call stops in 2018.
Salem Shuttle service in 2019 is will run from June 28 through Labor Day.
This route was operated with the Lynda, from the BHC Boston Water Taxi fleet. BHC policy was to limit this vessel to carrying 14 passengers at a time, but it is licensed for 21 passengers.
Fares on the Salem Harbor Shuttle were the same during all three years it has been operated. Fares were $7.00 for adults or $4.00 for children younger than age 12 for single rides, and $15.00 for adults or $9.00 for children for day passes. For Salem residents, or passengers transferring to or from the Boston–Salem ferry, the Shuttle fare was $4.00 for adults or $2.00 for children. No changes in fares are planned in 2019.
This route runs from the State Pier in Fall River to Old Harbor on Block, Island, Rhode Island, with an intermediate stop at Perrotti Park on the downtown Newport, Rhode Island waterfront. The operator is Interstate Navigation Company (IN). This route was established in 2014.
In 2018, the operating season ran from June 23 through September 3. The vessel departed from Fall River daily at 8:30 AM and arrived at Newport at approximately 9:30 AM. At 9:45 AM it departed Newport and was due at Block Island at 10:45 AM. After a midday round trip between Block Island and Newport that did not continue to Fall River, the vessel left Block Island at 5:10 PM and was due at Newport at 6:10 PM. Leaving Newport at 6:30 PM, it was due at Fall River at 7:10 PM. The same schedule was published for 2019.
The usual vessel on this route was the Islander, a 300-passenger catamaran with a cruising speed of 28 knots.
In 2018, one-way fares for adults were $15.00 from Fall River to Newport, $30.00 from Fall River to Block Island, and $25.50 from Newport to Block Island. Fares for children ages five through 11 were $7.00 from Fall River to Newport, $15.00 from Fall River to Block Island, and $13.00 from Newport to Block Island. No round-trip or multiple-ride discounts were offered. Reservations were recommended but not required, subject to capacity of the vessel.
All fares in 2019 were the same as in 2018.
A new seasonal route providing service between Lynn and Boston was inaugurated on May 19, 2014. Details about this route are presented below in the same format that was used for routes that appeared in the 2013 inventory. The 2014 season was the first year of a two-year demonstration. This route did not operate in 2016 or 2018, because the Commonwealth of Massachusetts did not approve an operating subsidy and an alternate funding source was not found.
In 2014, 2015, and 2017, this route ran from a landing at the end of Blossom Street in Lynn to Central Wharf in Boston, with no intermediate stops. At Central Wharf it docked at the same berth as whale watch trips run by Boston Harbor Cruises in partnership with the New England Aquarium. BHC ran the Lynn ferry under a contract with the City of Lynn.
The 2014 schedule for this route originally listed service as operating on weekdays from May 19 through September 12, during the AM and PM peak hours. During the AM peak, departures were at 6:30 AM and 8:00 AM from Lynn and at 7:05 AM from Boston. During the PM peak, departures were at 5:45 PM and 7:15 PM from Boston and at 6:20 PM from Lynn. The scheduled travel time was 35 minutes in each direction. On August 27, 2014, BHC announced that the operating season for the Lynn ferry would be extended to September 26. Service ended on that date, as announced.
In 2015, service began on May 18, with the same departure times and travel times as in 2014. Service continued through September 25.
In 2016 and 2018, insufficient funding was available for this route, and no service was provided. In 2017, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) funded one weekday round trip from June 20 through September 22. The morning trip left the Lynn terminal at 7:45 AM and was due at Central Wharf in Boston at 8:20 AM. The evening trip left Central Wharf at 6:00 PM and was due at Lynn at 6:35 PM.
The usual vessel on the Lynn ferry route in 2014, 2015, and 2017 was the Cetacea, a 250-passenger high-speed catamaran owned by BHC and used for whale watch trips from Boston during midday hours. Other boats from the BHC fleet were used on the Lynn route when the Cetacea was not available.
On April 7, 2016, the Federal Transit Administration released its list of projects approved for funding through its Passenger Ferry 2015-16 Grant Program. These included an award of $4.5 million to MassDOT to build a 149-passenger vessel to provide year-round ferry service between Lynn and Boston. However, as of 2018, this funding had not been released.
Fares during each season the Lynn ferry ran were $7.00 each way for adults and $3.50 for children ages three through 12 and seniors. Children under age three rode free. No round-trip or multiple-ride discounts were offered. MBTA Zone 2 or higher commuter rail passes were accepted in 2014 and 2015, but not in 2017.
On July 8, 2014, Boston Harbor Cruises began operating a new fixed-route service, the Cultural Connector, in Boston’s inner harbor. The service was promoted by the Boston Harbor Association, the City of Boston, and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. The Fallon Company, a major developer of the Seaport area, had a 10-year commitment to underwrite the service.
The route was a three-stop loop, with stops in South Boston at the Fan Pier Water Transportation Dock (near the Institute of Contemporary Art), at the Boston Children’s Museum on Fort Point Channel north of Congress Street, and at the water taxi wharf on the south side of the New England Aquarium at Central Wharf.
Fares for all passengers over age three were $5.00 between any two stops or $15.00 for an unlimited all-day pass. The all-day pass also entitled passengers to a free-round-trip ticket on the MBTA commuter ferry between Long Wharf and the Charlestown Navy Yard.
In 2014, daily departures from Fan Pier at 8:00 AM, 8:35 AM, and 9:00 AM provided direct trips to Central Wharf and back. Then, the trips departed every two hours between 10:00 AM and 6:00 PM, with all but the last trip stopping at the Children’s Museum on the way from Fan Pier to Central Wharf. On the two-stop trips, scheduled travel times between Fan Pier and Central Wharf were 10 minutes each way. On the three-stop trips, scheduled travel times were 15 minutes from Fan Pier to the Children’s Museum, with a 15-minute stop there, and then another 15 minutes to Central Wharf.
On this route BHC used the Huzzah, a 49-passenger enclosed vessel with a very low profile that enabled it to clear the Northern Avenue Bridge when the draw span was closed. This route in effect replaced some of the service that was provided by the independently operated Boston Harbor Shuttle loop route during the summers of 2011 through 2013 and part of the summer of 2014, as described in detail in the 2013 inventory and in Appendix Section A.12.2 of this memorandum.
In 2015, the operating season for the Cultural Connector ran from May 23 through September 7. The span of hours was reduced by discontinuing the 8:00 AM and 6:00 PM departures from Fan Pier. As a result, the first Fan Pier departure was at 8:35 AM and the last arrival there was at 5:40 PM. Fares were the same as in 2014.
The 2016 operating season ran from May 30 through September 5. The scheduled departure times were the same as in 2015, except that the 8:35 AM Fan Pier departure was changed to 8:30 AM. Fares were the same as in 2014 and 2015. As a promotion from June 15 through July 31, no fares were charged on the Cultural Connector, but passengers were admitted on a first-come first-served basis until the capacity of the boat was reached.
Because of very low ridership in the first three years, the Cultural Connector has not operated since the end of the 2016 season.
The number of years that the ferry routes discussed in the preceding sections of the memorandum have been operating vary widely. At one extreme, a few have been in continuous operation in some form since the mid-1800s. At the other extreme, a few routes were newly implemented after the previous CTPS inventory of ferry routes was prepared in 2013.
The histories below are condensed from Ferry Boat Routes of Massachusetts, 1631-2019, by Thomas J. Humphrey. They are presented in the same order that the routes are discussed in the main body of the memorandum.
Modern-day ferry service between Hingham and Boston dates from 1975. Historically, Hingham was one of the first towns in Massachusetts to have a steamboat connection to Boston. After several short-lived service demonstrations in the summers of 1817 to 1820, and a longer trial in 1830, scheduled service between the downtown Hingham waterfront and a terminal near the present site of Rowes Wharf in Boston was established in 1832. This service was never run year round, usually being suspended at least from January through late March each year.
Schedules usually included one round trip per day at times suitable for Hingham residents to travel to and from work in Boston. However, establishment in 1849 of steam railroad service between Hingham and Boston on the route of the present MBTA Greenbush Line resulted in the Hingham steamboats being used mainly for recreational travel thereafter.
A combination of declining ridership, reduction of the channel depth from silting, and destruction of the Hingham Pier in a storm resulted in the permanent end of steamboat service to the downtown Hingham waterfront in November 1898. Some service to a second Hingham terminal established at Crow Point in 1871 lasted until the summer of 1923.
The New Haven Railroad discontinued passenger service on the Greenbush Line through Hingham in 1959, and resumption of service on the line by the MBTA did not occur until 2007.
In 1973, in opposition to proposed construction of a new state highway through Hingham, a committee of South Shore community representatives began studying transit alternatives, including a commuter ferry between Hingham and Boston. Other than the Hull ferry, discussed in Section A.2.2, and two routes in California that ran to San Francisco from Marin County, there was no year-round ferry service intended primarily for journey-to-work trips anywhere in the US at that time.
After further studies, a demonstration of unsubsidized commuter ferry service between Hingham and Boston began on October 6, 1975. Bay State Cruises ran one round trip per day using the vessel from its summertime Boston–Provincetown route. Bay State gave up on the service at the end of November 1975. Massachusetts Bay Lines (MBL) then continued the service for another month using one of the vessels from its summer Boston–Nantasket route.
From June 28, 1976, to mid-September of that year, Boston Harbor Cruises ran two round trips between Hingham and Boston on weekdays, but then discontinued the route because it was not self-supporting.
In May 1977, Bay State Cruises again began running one round trip per day between Hingham and Boston in anticipation of a contract funded by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that did not materialize until that November. The contract provided funding for winter service for the first time. Shortly after receiving the contract, Bay State Cruises subcontracted the service to Walsh’s Deep Sea Fishing of Lynn.
During the summer of 1978, the Commonwealth contracted with A. C. Cruise Lines, the operator of a summer excursion boat between Boston and Gloucester, and with Boston Harbor Cruises, to each run one round trip per weekday between Hingham and Boston. Boston Harbor Cruises subsequently added another round trip with no additional subsidy.
At the end of the summer of 1978, Walsh’s returned to run one round trip per day through the spring of 1979. In addition to this service, Hingham Commuter, Inc., a new company organized by MBL, contracted with the Commonwealth to run three AM inbound and three PM outbound trips per weekday on the Hingham route starting in December 1978. The vessel providing the service was a high-speed hovercraft, the Yankee Skimmer, which the state had just acquired. The Yankee Skimmer quickly proved to be unsuitable for winter operation in Boston Harbor. Massachusetts Bay Lines substituted its medium-speed catamaran Freedom for the Yankee Skimmer first intermittently and then entirely until the end of April 1979.
Starting May 1, 1979, the Yankee Skimmer was scheduled to run four AM inbound and three PM outbound trips on the Hingham route on weekdays, supplemented by one round trip by the Freedom. The Yankee Skimmer was withdrawn from service after October 12, 1979, because of mechanical problems, leaving only the Freedom in service.
The Yankee Skimmer returned to the route on August 22, 1980, with a reduced schedule. After further breakdowns, the state officially terminated its use as of October 1, 1980.
MBL continued running one weekday round trip on the Hingham route with the Freedom through June 1981, after which state funding ended. MBL then continued running one round trip with the New Boston or the Nantascot, which it had previously used in summer service to Nantasket.
In March 1983, a new company, Massachusetts Bay Commuter Services, Inc., began running 11 unsubsidized round trips a day Monday through Saturday between Hingham and Boston with the Gracious Lady, a custom built 149-passenger high-speed monohull vessel. The MBL round trip also continued. Service by the Gracious Lady was reduced to eight round trips a day in June 1983.
In March 1984, the state highway department began a major reconstruction of the Southeast Expressway. To reduce auto traffic during this project, the state concurrently began funding increased express bus and ferry service to Boston from the South Shore. One contract went to Massachusetts Bay Commuter Services, but with only the Gracious Lady this company was unable to provideall the service the state wanted. An additional contract went to a newly organized company, Boston Harbor Commuter Service. Including MBL, the three companies ran 17 round trips a day between Hingham and Boston.
In September 1984, all three engines of the Gracious Lady failed and Massachusetts Bay Commuter Services could not afford to repair them. This forced the company to forfeit its contact with the state, which then gave an amended contract to Boston Harbor Commuter Service for expanded frequency.
In March 1985, when the expressway reconstruction project resumed, Boston Harbor Commuter Service was running eight round trips a day and MBL was running one. For that summer, Boston Harbor Commuter Service increased frequency to 11 round trips a day.
After the end of the expressway project, subsidization of Hingham ferry service continued, but as part of the MBTA operating budget rather than through direct state funding. Boston Harbor Commuter Service was still the contract operator. MBL bought and overhauled the Gracious Lady and used it to maintain one unsubsidized round trip per day.
Starting in 1986, the MBTA contracted with both Boston Harbor Commuter Service and MBL. To meet increasing demand, both operators acquired 300- to 350-passenger vessels to supplement or replace the 149-passenger boats previously used. The new vessels included MBL’s 350-passenger Massachusetts, which was launched in 1988 and was still part of the Hingham ferry fleet in 2018.
Because of a budget cutback, effective in September 1991, the MBTA contracted only with Boston Harbor Commuter Service to operate the Hingham route, but MBL continued running one or two round trips per day with the Massachusetts.
Boston Harbor Commuter Service remained the exclusive contract operator of Hingham ferry service for the MBTA until 1997. However, the company was significantly underbid that year by Boston Harbor Cruises, which had last run service to Hingham in 1978.
Boston Harbor Cruises has the longest history of any company currently operating passenger boats in Boston Harbor. It originated as a Charles River cruise boat operation, founded in 1926 by Captain Matthew “Matty” Hughes. Hughes died in 1994, but the corporate successors to this company have remained with his descendants. The present iteration, Nolan Associates, doing business as Boston Harbor Cruises, is owned by Hughes’ grandsons Christopher Nolan and Frederick Nolan III, and great-granddaughter Alison Nolan.
Effective June 1, 1997, BHC began running 21 weekday round trips between Hingham and Boston. The owners of Boston Harbor Commuter Service and MBL then joined forces to run six inbound AM peak and six outbound PM peak trips between Hingham and Boston with no subsidy. Their objective was to retain so many loyal riders from their old service that BHC would lose money on the MBTA contract and would back out of it. This strategy failed, and instead Boston Harbor Commuter Service gave up trying to compete in June 1998.
MBL continued running two inbound trips and one outbound trip a day on the Massachusetts. MBL had no subsidy for this service until 2004, when BHC subcontracted with MBL to run these trips in place of BHC trips scheduled at similar times.
BHC initially ran the Hingham ferry route with a fleet of five monohull vessels. In 1998 and 1999, BHC placed in service three newly built 350-passenger high-speed catamarans, Millennium, Nora Vittoria, and Aurora. These vessels were expected to reduce the trip time between Hingham and Rowes Wharf to 20 minutes, compared with 35 minutes for the monohulls. However, this performance level proved to be unattainable, and the published travel time remained at 35 minutes regardless of the type of vessel in service. BHC withdrew the Millennium from the Hingham route in 2001 and sold it in 2002.
Boston Harbor Cruises has continued as the MBTA’s contract operator of the Hingham–Rowes Wharf ferry route since taking it over in 1997.
This route is a combination of two previous routes with very different histories. Modern-day ferry service between Hull and Boston dates from 1963. Service from Hingham to Long Wharf via Logan Airport has been running since 2013. This service replaced a route that ran from Quincy to Long Wharf via Logan starting in 1996.
Steamboat service between the northern end of the Hull peninsula and Boston was first run experimentally in the summer of 1846. Hull was an intermediate stop for some trips on the Hingham–Boston route, discussed above. Starting in 1848, Hull was included as a stop in the Hingham summer schedule in most years.
The original Hull terminal was at the present site of the Hull Yacht Club pier in Allerton Harbor. In 1869, summer steamboat service was established between Boston and Nantasket Pier on the Weir River in Hull. This was run separately from Hingham service.
In 1881, a steamboat terminal was established at Pemberton Point to serve a new hotel. Connections to a steam railroad line from Hingham were also provided there. The new terminal became the main stop for steamboat service between Boston and the outer end of the Hull peninsula, but some service was also maintained to the Yacht Club Pier until the summer of 1922.
Steamboat service between Boston and points in Hingham and Hull was operated under the name Nantasket Beach Steamboat Company (NBS) starting in 1890. This was a corporate successor, after various name changes, spin-offs and mergers, to the Boston and Hingham Steamboat Company, which had begun operating service between Hingham and Boston in 1832.
On Thanksgiving Day in 1929, five of the six boats in the NBS fleet were destroyed in a fire at the Nantasket Pier. The company acquired a fleet of used boats in time for the 1930 season, but the operation was becoming increasingly unprofitable.
In the spring of 1933, NBS went into receivership. The assets of the company were acquired in the spring of 1934 by a group of local investors who formed the Nantasket–Boston Steamboat Company. This company maintained summer-only service between Boston, Pemberton Point, and Nantasket Beach, including some trips at times suitable for commuting to and from work in Boston.
The Nantasket–Boston Steamboat Company filed for bankruptcy in the fall of 1940, after failing to keep up with loan payments. Under a special act of the legislature, the town of Hull bought the Nantasket and Pemberton terminals from the steamboat company in 1941.
A second group of local investors organized a new Nantasket–Boston Steamboat Company in 1942 and acquired the remaining assets of the previous company. The new company ran service to Nantasket and Pemberton in the summers of 1942 to 1944.
In 1945, service was taken over by a new company, Nantasket Boat Line, Inc. This company was owned by B.B. Wills, who operated excursion boats in Chesapeake Bay and New York Harbor. Wills discontinued Boston-area service at the end of the 1951 season.
Starting in 1952, The Wilson Line, based in Wilmington, Delaware, took over Nantasket and Pemberton service. However, this company split off Boston–Pemberton service as a separate route under a contract with the town of Hull. After complaints from some Hull residents about the schedule and fares on the Hull service, Wilson declined to operate it after the 1952 season, and no other operator stepped in.
Ownership of The Wilson Line changed in 1955 and 1959. The new owners found Nantasket service unprofitable and abandoned it after the 1960 season. Timothy Casey, an excursion boat operator based in Washington D.C. ran a reduced service with smaller boats on the Nantasket route in the summers of 1961 to 1963.
In 1962, Adrian Miller, who had previously managed Nantasket ferry service (discussed above) for The Wilson Line and its short-lived successor, proposed to start a year-round commuter boat route between Pemberton Pier and Boston with one round trip per day. Later that summer, the Hull Selectmen approved use of the town-owned pier for the service.
Miller incorporated Massachusetts Bay Lines (MBL) on February 5, 1963, to run the Pemberton commuter service, which began that March. In November 1963, the Hull selectmen also accepted a proposal from MBL to run seasonal ferry service between Nantasket Pier and Boston.
In July 1965, Hingham businessman William J. Spence was elected chairman of the board of MBL. He subsequently acquired full ownership of the company, and it has remained in the Spence family ever since.
The Pemberton service alone was not profitable, but MBL subsidized it through profits from Nantasket service and harbor tours.
In 1980, MBL’s leases on the Pemberton and Nantasket Piers expired, and Bay State Cruises, then the operator of seasonal service between Boston and Provincetown and of local excursion boats, outbid MBL for the rights to serve Hull.
In 1985, Paragon Park a popular amusement park at Nantasket, which had generated much of the ridership for Nantasket boats since the early 1900s, was sold to developers and demolished. Nevertheless, Bay State Cruises maintained some service to Nantasket Pier until 1992.
In 1996, Bay State Cruises, under new ownership, sold most of its Boston operations, including the Pemberton commuter boat route, to Boston Harbor Cruises. BHC obtained a subsidy for the Pemberton route from the state, through the MBTA. In 1998, after BHC and the MBTA could not reach an agreement on the terms of a new subsidy, the MBTA awarded the contract for the Pemberton commuter boat to Water Transportation Alternatives (WTA). This company began serving Hull on July 13, 1998.
Instead of running the Hull route as a free-standing operation, as it had been run since 1963, WTA served Hull by adding Pemberton stops on two outbound morning trips and two outbound evening trips on its route from Quincy to Long Wharf. So, in the morning Pemberton commuters had to travel to Boston via Quincy. The two routes remained combined, but with a gradual increase in the number of trips serving Hull, until 2013.
As discussed below, in 2013, the outer endpoint for all trips on the combined route was shifted from Quincy to Hingham. A new schedule implemented soon after that included several trips running only between Hull and Long Wharf. This pattern has been maintained since then.
Water Transportation Associates, doing business as Harbor Express, was founded in 1996 by two graduates of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, William L. Walker and Michael G. McGurl. Their plan was to operate a ferry route between the Fore River shipyard in Quincy and Logan International Airport, with commuter service to the downtown Boston waterfront as a secondary source of ridership. General Dynamics, the former owner of the shipyard, agreed to finance construction of two 149-passenger high-speed catamarans for the Quincy route and to subsidize the operation for five years, after which the route was projected to be self-sufficient.
Service between Quincy and Logan began on November 18, 1996, on the Flying Cloud, which was the first high-speed catamaran in scheduled local passenger service in Boston Harbor. Service was extended to Long Wharf a few weeks later when the second catamaran, the Lightning, was delivered.
As noted above, WTA took over operation of Hull commuter service under an MBTA contract in 1998.
When the original subsidy contract for the Quincy ferry expired at the end of 2001, General Dynamics declined to renew it. To save the service, the Executive Office of Transportation, predecessor of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, granted a six-month subsidy to WTA to maintain the route. In April 2002, the MBTA board of directors voted to buy the Flying Cloud and the Lighting from WTA along with the terminal facilities owned by WTA in Quincy and WTA’s lease of terminal facilities at Long Wharf. Later that year, WTA was the winning bidder for a multiyear contract to run the Quincy–Hull–Logan–Long Wharf service.
WTA continued as the operator of this route until 2013 when it was underbid by Boston Harbor Cruises, which had been operating the Hingham–Rowes Wharf route since 1997. BHC took over the route on July 1, 2013, still operating with the Flying Cloud and the Lightning.
On October 15, 2013, a washout from a water main break at the Quincy terminal resulted in the outer end the Quincy–Hull–Logan–Long Wharf trips being diverted to the Hingham commuter boat terminal. This diversion was initially supposed to be temporary, but in March 2014 the MBTA announced that repairs to the Quincy terminal would be too costly, and in July 2014 it sold the Quincy property.
Ferry service from Hingham to Boston has continued since 2013 as two separate routes. The MBTA currently identifies these as Route F1 Hingham to Rowes Wharf nonstop, and Route F2H Hingham to Long Wharf via Hull and Logan Airport.
Excluding Native American canoe ferries, the first official ferry boat routes in North America began operating in May and June 1631 between what are now Boston proper, Chelsea, and Charlestown. The latter route crossed the Charles River near the present line of the North Washington Street Bridge. It was run with rowboats until 1786 when the first of the bridges across the Charles was built, eliminating the need for the ferry. After that, ferry service to Charlestown was not reinstated for almost 200 years.
The Charlestown Navy Yard, established in 1800, was an active naval facility until 1975. The National Park Service then acquired part of the Navy Yard property, where the USS frigate Constitution, also known as Old Ironsides, had been on display for many years. A privately funded Constitution museum opened in the Navy Yard in April 1976.
To improve visitor access to the Constitution and the museum, in June 1979 the Park Service began sponsoring ferry service between Rowes Wharf and the Navy Yard. (Boat operators had previously been able to include the Navy Yard as a point of interest on Boston Harbor tours, but boats had not been allowed to dock there.)
This tourist-oriented service was the only ferry service to the Navy Yard from 1979 to 1987. In June 1987, Boston Harbor Cruises began running a general-purpose ferry route between Long Wharf and the Charlestown Navy Yard with funding from the Boston Redevelopment Authority. This service was initially intended to offset traffic impacts of condominium developments then nearing completion in the Navy Yard.
Charlestown ferry service was greatly expanded in October 1988 with funding from the Massachusetts Department of Public Works (MDPW) channeled through the MBTA. The MDPW was then beginning a four-year project to reconfigure the connection between the Tobin Bridge over the Mystic River and the Central Artery near City Square in Charlestown. The ferry service was intended to reduce congestion at the point where highway traffic and local traffic merged in Charlestown.
After an additional service increase in 1989, there has been little change in the Charlestown route up to the present other than assignment, starting in 1997, of boats with greater capacity than those originally used. Boston Harbor Cruises has been the only operator of the service. Funding has come directly from the MBTA budget since highway construction mitigation funding ended in 2004.
The first steamboat to sail in Boston Harbor, the Massachusetts, arrived in 1817. This boat was originally intended for use in regular service between Salem and Boston, but instead it visited Salem on only a few excursions that year. A few steamboat excursions to Salem were made in 1818, and regular service was run in the summers of 1820 and 1821. After that, there do not seem to have been any more steamboat trips to Salem until the 1830s.
Occasional steamboat excursions from Boston to Salem were run in the years 1830 to 1837. An attempt in 1835 to run scheduled daily service was given up after only two weeks. The opening in August 1838 of the Eastern Railroad between East Boston and Salem greatly reduced the potential for steamboat service between Salem and Boston.
From the 1840s through the 1880s steamboat trips between Boston and Salem were again run mostly in the form of occasional excursions. However, during the summer of 1855, one daily round trip was run at times suitable for work trips to Boston from Salem.
During the summers of 1891 to 1905 a succession of steamboat operators ran steamboat service between Boston and Salem Willows, sometimes offering several round trips per day. These trips were mostly scheduled for recreational day trips from Boston to North Shore destinations rather than for work trips.
During the summers of 1926 to 1929, the Nantasket Beach Steamboat Company ran “triangle” excursions four days a week between Boston, Salem and Nantasket. These started out with a morning trip from Boston to Salem Willows and continued from there to Nantasket Beach. From Nantasket, passengers could either take one of the many NBS trips back to Boston or take an evening boat from Nantasket to Salem Willows and Boston.
Newspaper ads from an unidentified company showed an excursion running one trip on Sundays only between Boston and Salem Willows in the summer of 1930. In the summer of 1931, a daily round trip between Boston and Gloucester with an intermediate stop at Salem Willows was advertised. This seems to have been the last year for scheduled steamboat service between Boston and Salem.
Modern-day ferry service between Salem and Boston began with a test run on November 22, 1988, on the high-speed catamaran Vineyard Spray, owned and operated by Bay State Cruises. However, this company never tried to establish regular service on the route.
In 1998, Water Transportation Alternatives, the originator of the Quincy–Logan–Boston route discussed above, ran a demonstration service between Blaney Street Wharf in Salem and Long Wharf in Boston under a grant from the Executive Office of Transportation and Construction. WTA ran six round trips a day from July through October with a leased high-speed catamaran, the Friendship IV.
The demonstration funding was not continued for a second year, and WTA would not run the route without this funding. However, during the summers of 1999 and 2000, Boston Harbor Cruises ran as many as four round trips a day between Salem and Boston from June through October with a monohull boat freed up from the Hingham commuter boat service when the high-speed catamarans were acquired. In October 2000, BHC made three test runs on the Salem route with one of the Hingham catamarans, but declined to start regular service.
In the summer of 2001, A.C. Cruise line added a stop at Salem Willows on its established Boston–Gloucester excursion route using a slow monohull, but the company discontinued the entire route after that.
In May 2006, the City of Salem received a $2.3 million state grant towards purchase if the Friendship IV, which was to be leased to WTA for resumption of the Boston–Salem route. This service ran from June through October 2006.
In 2007, the City of Salem renamed the Friendship IV as the Nathaniel Bowditch. WTA ran the Salem service again seasonally each year from 2007 through 2011. After the 2011 season, WTA management concluded that the company could not continue Salem service profitably and declined to continue the lease.
Boston Harbor Cruises took over the Boston–Salem service in 2012 and has run it every year since then without a subsidy. However, to do so it has had to increase fares significantly. For example, in 2011 the WTA’s one-way adult fare on the route was $10.50. In 2018 the one-way adult fare was $25.00, except for commuter and resident discounts.
The Friendship IV was originally launched in 1994 for whale watch excursions out of Bar Harbor Maine. Before finding a permanent home in Salem, she had also served as a casino boat in the Gulf of Mexico, an excursion boat based in Key West, Florida, a commuter boat in New York Harbor, and the first high-speed ferry between Boston and Provincetown.
Scheduled steamboat service between Boston and Winthrop was first operated in 1840. Winthrop was an intermediate stop on a route between Boston and Nahant, which served patrons of the Taft’s Hotel at Point Shirley. Similar service was provided in the summers of 1845, 1846, and 1848.
After 1848, the next scheduled steamboat service from Boston to Point Shirley was run in 1877, as a dedicated route that lasted for only one summer.
During the summers of 1884 and 1885, a steamboat route from Boston to Point Shirley was run in conjunction with a steam railroad line between Point Shirley and Point of Pines in Revere. The boat service did not resume after a November 1885 damaged the rail line beyond repair.
During the summers of 1894 to 1898, the Winthrop Steamboat Company advertised frequent all-day service between Boston and a landing near the present ferry terminal in Winthrop. Service was also run to a landing near the present Cottage Park Yacht Club landing in Winthrop in 1897.
The Winthrop Steamboat Company discontinued serving Winthrop after the 1898 season. There does not appear to have been any scheduled boat service between Boston and Winthrop after that for more than a century.
The findings of a feasibility study completed for the Town of Winthrop in January 2001 encouraged town officials to take steps toward establishing ferry service to Boston. However, a lack of funding prevented the Town from implementing service until 2010, when it was awarded a federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) grant for a three-year demonstration. Service began officially on August 2, 2010, and was run under contract by Boston Harbor Cruises. The schedule of three inbound and two outbound AM peak trips and three outbound and two inbound PM peak trips required one vessel. This vessel was usually the 149-passenger high-speed monohull Anna, originally built as the Gracious Lady for the Hingham commuter boat route. In Boston, the boat docked at Rowes Wharf. In Winthrop, the newly built town-owned terminal was used.
BHC was again the contract operator of the Winthrop route in 2011 and 2012. The CMAQ funding expired after the 2012 season and BHC was unwilling to run an unsubsidized service after that.
For the 2013 season, Captain Timothy Gover, owner of a small charter boat business, agreed to run an unsubsidized ferry service between Winthrop and Boston. The vessel used was the Joseph S. Kennedy, a 49-passenger former Navy liberty launch. The schedule called for two inbound and one outbound AM peak trips and two outbound and one inbound PM peak trips.
Service on this route was suspended several times because of mechanical problems with the boat, and there were several changes in the schedule. This operation was discontinued after September 23, 2013.
No Winthrop ferry service was run in 2014 or 2015, but in November 2014 the town signed a contract for construction of a 73-passenger catamaran. This vessel, the Valkyrie, was delivered in November 2015, too late to start service that year.
Service between Winthrop and Boston on the Valkyrie began on April 16, 2016. Boston Harbor Cruises ran it temporarily until Town of Winthrop employees were trained and licensed to run it themselves.
An expanded summer schedule, implemented in June 2016, included some trips stopping at Spectacle Island. Effective August 16, 2016, the schedule was revised extensively to include service to Squantum Point Park in Quincy, in cooperation with the city and the state.
In 2017, the Winthrop Ferry added a stop at the Fan Pier Wharf in Boston’s Seaport district. Winthrop Ferry schedules called this stop Seaport. From April to June, the final Boston stop was at the Moakley Courthouse in South Boston, but for the rest of the season Rowes Wharf was the final docking place. Squantum service resumed in June 2017, but Spectacle Island service was not provided that year.
In 2018, Central Wharf was the inner terminal in Boston instead of Rowes Wharf. Limited service to Spectacle Island was restored.
Previous seasonal commuter ferry service between Squantum and Boston was offered by various operators in 1977, from 1984 to 1990, and finally from September 1996 to March 1997. These services failed in part because much of the present residential development at Squantum was not yet in place.
Before 1977, the last scheduled ferry service between Squantum and Boston was run in the summers of 1898 to 1900. The Boston terminal of this route was at City Point, and service was intended for recreational travel to Squantum.
The histories of the two present routes from Boston to Provincetown are so closely related that they are discussed together below instead of in separate sections.
The earliest report found of a steamboat trip from Boston to Provincetown was for a one-time excursion in the summer of 1837. There were short-lived scheduled services on this route by different operators in 1843, 1849, 1854, 1859, 1866 to 1874, and 1877. Most of these services provided one round trip per day, two or three days a week.
Daily summer steamboat service between Boston and Provincetown was first provided in 1887. After that, a succession of operators served the route almost every year until 1967, with notable wartime suspensions in 1918 and 1942. During most summers in the 1930s and 1940s there was enough demand for two competing companies (though not always the same two) to each run one round trip per day on nearly identical schedules. After World War II, motor vessels replaced most of the steamboats on the route.
From 1968 to 1972, there was no scheduled boat service between Boston and Provincetown. In 1973, Richard Nakashian, who had been operating tour boats in Boston Harbor since the early 1960s, organized the Bay State–Spray and Provincetown Steamship Company (Bay State) to reestablish ferry service between Boston and Provincetown. Service began in May 1973, with the 600-passenger motor vessel Provincetown, custom-built for the route.
This service was so popular that in 1981, Bay State replaced the Provincetown with the 1,100-passenger Provincetown II. The Boston terminal for the route was relocated from Long Wharf to Commonwealth Pier (now the World Trade Center) at the same time. The Provincetown was renamed Commonwealth and was retained by Bay State for charter and excursion service.
Richard Nakashian retired at the end of the 1986 operating season and sold the company. Over expansion by the new owners in the form of high-speed catamaran service from Boston to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket forced the company into bankruptcy in 1989. Nakashian returned briefly as head of a new company, Bay State Cruises, which was organized in 1990 by employees of the old company.
In 1992, the assets of this company were sold to a second Bay State Cruise Company, a subsidiary of Sodexho, S.A., a French-based multinational facilities management company. In 1998, Sodexho sold Bay State Cruises to Michael Glasfeld, the current owner.
From 1981 to 1998, the Provincetown II provided all service on the Boston–Provincetown route. In 1999, Bay State inaugurated high-speed catamaran service on the route using the Friendship IV, which was previously and subsequently used on the Boston–Salem route. Bay State used this vessel on the Provincetown route again in the summers of 2000 to 2004. The scheduled trip times for this boat initially ranged from one hour and 50 minutes to two hours, compared with three hours for the Provincetown II.
In May 2000, Boston Harbor Cruises inaugurated competing high-speed service between Boston and Provincetown. This service was temporarily provided with one of the 350-passenger catamarans from the Hingham commuter boat fleet. In June 2000, BHC placed the newly delivered high-speed catamaran Salacia on the route. With a capacity of 597 passengers, this was the largest high-speed ferry operating in the US at the time. The scheduled trip time for BHC catamarans was 90 minutes.
The combined high-speed ferry services of BHC and Bay State captured so much of the market for Boston-Provincetown service that in 2001, Bay State reduced service by the Provincetown II to Friday through Sunday only. Bay State also reduced the scheduled times for the catamaran trips to 90 minutes, to match the BHC schedule.
In July 2004, Bay State placed the newly built 149-passenger catamaran Provincetown III on the route. On some Saturdays and Sundays that year, the Provincetown II was diverted to private charters.
In 2005, Friday service by the Provincetown II was eliminated. In 2010, service by this vessel was reduced to Saturdays only. In 2013, Provincetown II service was cut back to only two trips, both on Saturdays in July.
Also in 2013, Bay State took delivery of the catamaran Provincetown IV, a twin to the Provincetown III. Rather than expanding service frequency, Bay State has used one catamaran as a backup vessel or to provide unscheduled extra trips at times of heavy demand.
There have been no notable changes to the schedule since 2013, except for the experimental weekend service offered from October 19 to December 2 in 2018.
The history of this route is combined with that of the route from World Trade Center to Provincetown in Section A.4.1 above.
Scheduled ferry service from Plymouth to Provincetown does not seem to have been operated during the steamboat era except for brief trials of service from Boston to Provincetown via Plymouth.
In the summer of 1972, when no ferry service was being run between Boston and Provincetown, a route between Plymouth and Provincetown was advertised as running one or two days a week with one round trip each day. Boston–Provincetown service was reestablished in 1973, and service from Plymouth to Provincetown apparently did not run again until 1980.
The Plymouth and Provincetown Steamship Company was incorporated in January 1980, and that summer began operating a route between the two towns in its name with the vessel Cape Cod Princess. One round trip was run daily, with a morning departure from Plymouth and a late afternoon departure from Provincetown. The same vessel made a whale watch trip from Provincetown between the arrival from Plymouth and the return departure.
This service was repeated during late spring, summer, and early fall for the next several years. By 1985, it was promoted mainly as a whale watch excursion from Plymouth with an intermediate stop for passengers at Provincetown, but it could still be used for travel between Plymouth and Provincetown. This operation continued until 1988.
Captain John Boats was incorporated in 1973 as the successor to a company that had operated fishing trips from Plymouth since 1946. In 1989, Stanley Tavares, the owner of Captain John Boats, incorporated a separate company, Cape Cod Cruises, to operate summer ferry service between Plymouth and Provincetown.
The company maintained the same operating strategy as its predecessor, with one round trip per day between the two endpoint towns and a midday whale watch trip from Provincetown.
Various boats were assigned to the route over the years. In 1989, it was the Cape Cod Clipper. In 1997, it was the former Hingham commuter boat Dragonfish. Later it was usually one of the boats from the Captain John Boats fleet: the Captain John & Son and the Captain John & Son II, III, and IV.
The Cape Cod Cruises name was phased out starting in 1998, with the Captain John Boats name being used in advertising for the Plymouth–Provincetown route.
In 2006, Captain John Boats sold the Captain John & Son III to the Cuttyhunk Boat Line. In 2008, Tavares organized another company, Waterfront Enterprises, Inc. In 2010, this company took over operation of the Plymouth–Provincetown route, renaming it the Plymouth–Provincetown Express, and used the Captain John & Son IV, which it acquired from Captain John Boats.
In 2011, Captain John Boats, Inc. was dissolved under court order. Plymouth Sea Tours, LLC, formed in 2010, bought the remaining Captain John fleet and continued running excursions from Plymouth under the name Captain John Whale Watching and Fishing Tours.
In 2014, Plymouth Sea Tours began competing with Waterfront Enterprises on the Plymouth–Provincetown route using the Captain John & Son II for service Thursday through Sunday and offering almost the same departure times from both ends of the route, but slightly different departure locations. In 2015, Plymouth Sea Tours expanded its service on this route to provide daily service.
In 2016, Waterfront Enterprises initially advertised that it would continue running the Plymouth–Provincetown Express as before. However, in July 2016, Tavares sold the Captain John & Son IV to Plymouth Sea Tours, which became the sole operator of one round trip per day between Plymouth and Provincetown. By 2017, Plymouth Sea Tours was doing business as Capt. John Boats.
The histories of Steamship Authority routes to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket are so closely related that they are discussed together here rather than separately in the histories of service to each island.
Ferry service to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket substantially predates the steamboat era. Colonial records show that as early as 1665, the Town of Falmouth attempted to establish a ferry route to the Vineyard. However, official records do not confirm that such a route was operating until 1700. This route was most likely run with small sailboats. The landings were at Woods Hole and what is now Vineyard Haven. Except during the American Revolution, various operators maintained this route throughout the 1700s. The earliest mention found of licensing of ferry service between the mainland and Nantucket was in 1784.
Sailing packets (larger vessels carrying passengers, freight, and mail) began sailing between New Bedford and Nantucket in the 1790s, and these vessels were also stopping at Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard by 1800.
Steamboat service between New Bedford and Nantucket with intermediate stops at Vineyard Haven and Falmouth was inaugurated in 1829, with service three days a week in each direction on alternate days. This service ran seasonally though 1831, and was continued under different operators starting in 1833. Sailing packet service also continued.
A steam railroad route between Boston and New Bedford was completed in 1840, and in 1842 train and boat schedules at New Bedford were coordinated to allow convenient transfers for island passengers.
In 1854, a second railroad connection was established when the Cape Cod Railroad was extended to a new steamboat wharf at Hyannis. This allowed ferries to Nantucket to take a much shorter route than the one from New Bedford, but New Bedford remained the transfer point for ferries to Martha’s Vineyard, and some Nantucket ferry service from New Bedford was also maintained.
A seasonal steamboat landing at Oak Bluffs was first established about 1870 in conjunction with the development of a community of summer homes there.
In 1872, rail service from Boston reached Woods Hole. A new ferry transfer point was established there. Although the distance to Nantucket was longer from Woods Hole than from Hyannis, the Hyannis harbor was beginning to need substantial dredging to remain usable, and the rail-ferry connection there was discontinued in favor of Woods Hole.
In 1886, the two separate steamboat companies that had been providing all service between New Bedford, Woods Hole, and the islands merged as the New Bedford, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Steamboat Company (NBMV&N). The Old Colony Railroad, which by then owned the rail lines to New Bedford and Woods Hole, had a 20 percent interest in the new steamboat company. In 1893, the Old Colony Railroad became part of the New York, New Haven & Hartford (New Haven) Railroad system, bringing its steamboat holdings with it.
In 1910, the New Haven Railroad bought all the stock of the NBMV&N through a subsidiary, the New England Navigation Company. In 1922, in a corporate restructuring, the assets of the NBMV&N were sold to another New Haven subsidiary, the New England Steamship Company, and two years later the NBMV&N was formally dissolved.
Since 1886, NBMV&N had been the sole provider of commercial ferry service to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket from the mainland. The New England Steamship Company continued in that role until 1945.
The New Haven Railroad declared bankruptcy in 1935 and began shutting down unprofitable steamship services. After 1937, only the former NBMV&N services remained under New Haven control. At the height of the 1938 season, service on Monday through Saturday consisted of three round trips a day between New Bedford and Nantucket with intermediate stops at Woods Hole and Oak Bluffs, one round trip per day between Vineyard Haven and New Bedford via Woods Hole, and two round trips per day between Woods Hole and Oak Bluffs.
Effective December 31, 1945, the New Haven Railroad shut down the New England Steamship Company permanently. A new private company, Massachusetts Steamship Lines, bought the New England Steamship Company’s vessels and continued the service from New Bedford and Woods Hole to the islands.
Massachusetts Steamship Lines had labor and equipment problems and was unprofitable even after rate increases. An act of the Massachusetts legislature approved on June 11, 1948, established the New Bedford, Woods Hole, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority (SSA). The SSA was empowered to purchase the vessels and terminals of Massachusetts Steamship Lines. Disagreements over the purchase price and questions about the SSA’s powers to issue bonds delayed the actual takeover until the spring of 1949.
The SSA soon concluded that New Bedford service was the largest contributor to its operating deficits. Political pressure blocked repeated efforts to scale back or eliminate this service in favor of running all trips out of Woods Hole. This situation was finally resolved by legislation approved on October 18, 1960, that abolished the original SSA and replaced it with the Woods Hole, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority. The new SSA was limited to serving the three places in its name, though not at specific terminals, except in emergencies. The new SSA began operating on January 1, 1961.
Despite the restriction in its charter on places it could serve, the SSA immediately began investigating the feasibility of reestablishing a terminal at Hyannis for Nantucket service. Further consideration of this option was temporarily halted by a February 1962 court ruling, but by 1968 the SSA was pursuing the idea again.
Legislation approved in July 1969 authorized the SSA to operate service from Hyannis for freight and passengers between May 1 and September 30 each year. Delays in constructing a terminal and in upgrading the fleet to provide enough vessels resulted in postponement of the start of SSA service between Hyannis and Nantucket until June 1973. The restriction on the operating season was subsequently removed to allow year-round service from Hyannis.
The SSA discontinued the one remaining round trip between Woods Hole and Nantucket with the last trip on September 16, 1987. These trips had also stopped at Oak Bluffs and had provided the only inter-island service. Since then all SSA Nantucket service has been run from Hyannis.
As discussed below, high-speed catamaran service between Hyannis and Nantucket was first introduced by the Hy-Line, in 1996. The SSA introduced its own high-speed service on the route in 1998 using the Finest, a catamaran leased from Derecktor Shipyards in New York. The SSA again leased the Finest in 1999 but also ordered a new catamaran from Derecktor.
The SSA’s catamaran Flying Cloud (not to be confused with the Quincy commuter boat with the same name) went into service in the spring of 2000. The Flying Cloud had frequent mechanical breakdowns, mostly because of engine failures. In August 2005, the SSA approved a contract for a replacement from Gladding-Hearn of Somerset, Massachusetts, the builder of most of the high-speed catamarans in the state. This vessel was the Iyanough, which went into service in 2007. The Flying Cloud was sold to an operator in Venezuela in 2008.
The most recent addition to the SSA fleet is the passenger-and-vehicle carrier Woods Hole, which went into service in 2016.
Island Commuter Corporation was incorporated on April 18, 1960. Service by the old SSA had suffered from labor disputes, and private operators were attempting to provide replacement service. However, Island Commuter did not acquire its first vessel until 1961. This was the Vinalhaven II, built in 1943 for ferry service out of Rockland, Maine. Island Commuter named this vessel the Vineyard Queen.
Island Commuter began operating summer service between a pier at the northern end of Falmouth Inner Harbor and a pier in Oak Bluffs Harbor. By 1962, the summer schedule provided six daily round trips, with an additional round trip on Fridays.
In 1963, Island Commuter took delivery of a newly built vessel, the Island Queen, which had a capacity of 280 passengers. Massachusetts Bay Lines bought the Vineyard Queen and used it for several years on the Hull commuter boat route.
In 1974, Island Commuter acquired a new 600-passenger vessel also named Island Queen. The 1963 Island Queen was renamed and went into service as the Hy-Line’s Cross-Rip. Since 2006, she has been a dinner boat, the Seneca Legacy, based in Watkins Glen, New York.
The 1974 Island Queen was still providing all Island Commuter service in 2018, on the original route.
In the early 1960s, Captain Bud Tietje of Falmouth bought an old wooden party fishing boat, Patriot, and began running fishing excursions under the name Patriot Party Boats.
In the late 1960s, the Boston Globe contracted with Patriot Party Boats to deliver newspapers to Martha’s Vineyard. Captain Tietje later began offering transportation of small items of general freight to the island.
In 1978, Tietje had a larger boat, Patriot Too, built to replace Patriot. At about that time, construction workers needing transportation to the island too early for the first SSA trip arranged with Patriot Party Boats to provide this service. The company gradually expanded this into a year-round ferry service between Falmouth and Oak Bluffs for the general public, offering several daily departures.
Bud Tietje retired in 1988, turning the business over to his son, Jim, who formally incorporated Patriot Party Boats in 1989.
By 2001, Patriot Party Boats acquired a former New Orleans oil rig crew boat Quickwater, for the ferry route and it has been the primary vessel for service on the route since then.
Summer ferry service from New Bedford to Oak Bluffs was first instituted about 1870, and was part of the system taken over in 1949 by the first Steamship Authority, as discussed above. When the second Steamship Authority was activated in 1961, it discontinued all service out of New Bedford. There was no ferry service between New Bedford and Martha’s Vineyard for the rest of the 1960s.
In 1972, a newly organized company, Cape Island Express Lines, began running ferry service between New Bedford and Vineyard Haven with a 49-passenger boat Cape Islander.
Cape Island Express replaced the Cape Islander with the 400-passenger Manisee in 1973, and with the Schamonchi, which was limited to 450 passengers by the SSA, in 1978.
This service initially terminated at a wharf on the downtown New Bedford waterfront, but by 1987, it had relocated to Billy Woods Wharf near the foot of Ruth Street, outside the hurricane barrier.
Cape Island Express operated the New Bedford–Vineyard Haven route until 2000, usually from mid-May to mid-October with several daily round trips. At the end of the 2000 operating season, the company put the route and vessel up for sale.
The Hy-Line began negotiating to buy the operation, but in a surprise move in January 2001, the SSA board announced that the SSA would take it over.
The SSA ran New Bedford–Martha’s Vineyard service with the Schamonchi from 2001 to 2003, but changed the Vineyard terminal from Vineyard Haven to Oak Bluffs.
In 2001, the SSA considered, but rejected a plan to lease a high-speed catamaran for the New Bedford–Oak Bluffs route. However, in November 2002 the SSA board issued a request for proposals for privately operated high-speed service to begin in either 2003 or 2004. New England Fast Ferry, LLC, (NEFF) newly organized by the owners of Bay State Cruises, proposed to run year-round service from New Bedford to Vineyard Haven using two 149-passenger high-speed catamarans. In summer months, alternate trips would run to Oak Bluffs instead of Vineyard Haven.
In August 2003, the SSA board approved an agreement with NEFF for the high-speed service, and also voted to issue a request for proposals for privatization of the service the SSA was running. NEFF submitted the only proposal for the latter service, for which it planned to set up a separate company, New Bedford Traditional Ferry (NBTF).
NBTF began operating the replacement service for the SSA route in May 2004, but substituted a leased 315-passenger vessel, Portuguese Princess, for the Schamonchi, which the SSA later sold. The New Bedford terminal was changed to the State Pier on the downtown waterfront.
NEFF began high-speed service from the State Pier in June 2004, but only one vessel, the Whaling City Express had been completed, so service ran only to Oak Bluffs until September, when it switched to Vineyard Haven. A second catamaran, the Martha’s Vineyard Express was delivered in time for the 2005 summer season, and the alternating trips to Vineyard Haven and Oak Bluffs began.
Under its agreement with the SSA, NBTF was obligated to run the traditional ferry route for only two seasons, and the SSA was committed to funding it for only that long. By the end of the 2005 season, the high-speed service had captured so much of the ridership that there was no hope of the traditional service becoming self-supporting, so it was discontinued permanently.
In March 2008, the owners of NEFF acquired the assets of SeaStreak, the latest in a series of companies that had run high-speed ferries between the northern New Jersey coast and Manhattan since 1989. New Bedford service continued under the NEFF name in 2008 and 2009, but starting in 2010 it also ran under the SeaStreak name. Starting in 2012, the name was written as Seastreak.
In the fall of 2009, NEFF announced that New Bedford-Vineyard service would be suspended from December 31, 2009, through March 31, 2010. This marked the permanent end of winter service on the route. In 2012, the operating season was shortened further to run from May 1 through October 31. In 2014, the operating season was changed to May 17 through October 15.
Starting in 2015, Seastreak service to Martha’s Vineyard ran only to Oak Bluffs, except when extreme weather conditions required the boats to be diverted to Vineyard Haven.
Ferry service between Hyannis and Oak Bluffs was started in 1967 by Nantucket Boat, Inc., which had been operating a route from Hyannis to Nantucket since 1946. The Oak Bluffs route initially had three round trips per day, intended mostly for day trips to the Vineyard by people vacationing on Cape Cod. Nantucket Boat marketed some of its service as the Hi-Line.
In 1970, Hyannis Harbor Tours, which had been operating sightseeing boats in Hyannis Harbor since 1962, began running summer excursions between Hyannis and Oak Bluffs in competition with Nantucket Boat. After the end of the 1972 summer season, Hyannis Harbor Tours bought out Nantucket Boat, including vessels, terminal facilities, and the trade name, which it modified slightly to Hy-Line.
Hyannis Harbor Tours was originally owned by Hyannis businessmen Richard and Robert Scudder and E. Raymond Taylor. Members of the Scudder family still controlled the company in 2019.
In June 1973, a new 550-passenger vessel, Brant Point was launched for Hy-Line Hyannis–Oak Bluffs service. Brant Point provided most of the service on this route until 2005, when Hy-Line also began running a high-speed alternative with the 149-passenger catamaran Lady Martha. She had been launched in 1997 as the Grey Lady II for Hy-Line service to Nantucket until she was replaced in 2003 by a larger Grey Lady. She ran under lease in California in 2004, before being taken back and renamed by Hy-Line.
Unlike the seasonal Brant Point service, the Lady Martha was initially run year round on the Hyannis–Oak Bluffs route. However, in 2007 this service ran only from April 1 through November 30, and in 2008 the schedule was further reduced to May 1 through October 31.
Starting in 2006, the Brant Point service, which Hy-Line marketed as Traditional Service, was reduced to one round trip per day, running from May 23 to October 18.
Hy-Line discontinued all Traditional Service on its routes from Hyannis to Oak Bluffs and to Nantucket at the end of the 2015 operating season. The Brant Point was sold to Boston Harbor Cruises for service to Georges Island. Hy-Line bought a 350-passenger catamaran, the Golden Sunshine, from a party boat operator in Brooklyn, and placed her in service between Hyannis and Oak Bluffs as the Vineyard Lady in the summer of 2016. The Lady Martha was then assigned mostly to inter-island service between Oak Bluffs and Nantucket, but she also made one morning trip from Hyannis to Oak Bluffs and one evening trip from Oak Bluffs to Hyannis.
Historically, ferry service between Nantucket and Oak Bluffs was provided by vessels running between either New Bedford or Woods Hole and Nantucket, and making an intermediate stop at Oak Bluffs. These routes were part of the service acquired by the Steamship Authority, as discussed above.
By 1987, with the SSA having shifted the mainland terminal for most of its Nantucket service to Hyannis, only one round trip per day from Woods Hole to Nantucket via Oak Bluffs remained. The final trips on this route ran on September 16, 1987. However, the SSA sought proposals for private operators that would run service between Oak Bluffs and Nantucket and share the revenue with the SSA.
Bay State Cruises won the contract for the 1988 season, using a leased monohull. Bay State was also running a high-speed catamaran route between Boston and Oak Bluffs that year.
In 1989, the Hy-Line took over the Oak Bluffs–Nantucket route, which was branded as Inter-Island service. Three round trips per day were run, requiring two boats. These were monohulls from the Hy-Line fleet.
Hy-Line continued running three round trips per day on the Inter-Island route each summer through 2005. In 2006, service was reduced to one midday round trip beginning and ending at Oak Bluffs. The catamaran Lady Martha served these trips between trips on the Hyannis-Oak Bluffs route.
In 2016, in conjunction with obtaining the SSA’s permission to discontinue all Traditional ferry services, Hy-Line increased Inter-Island service to three daily round-trips by the Lady Martha. The Vineyard Lady took over most of the service between Hyannis and Oak Bluffs.
Starting in the early 1800s, Edgartown was one of the ports served by vessels sailing between New Bedford or Woods Hole and Martha’s Vineyard. Some steamboat service to Edgartown was run as late as 1933, but by 1935, Edgartown was served only by bus connections from the Oak Bluffs boat terminal.
In 1994, the owners of Falmouth Marine, a boat repair and storage service on Falmouth Inner Harbor, incorporated Cape & Islands Transport for the purpose of operating ferry service between Falmouth and points on Martha’s Vineyard.
The first route implemented by this company ran from Falmouth to Edgartown Harbor and was marketed as the Falmouth–Edgartown Ferry. Service was initially run with a 60-passenger monohull vessel Pied Piper. Cape & Islands replaced this vessel in 2001 with a 149-passenger monohull, which it renamed Pied Piper. The older boat with that name became the Little Piper.
In the early years of this route, service was run Friday through Sunday from Memorial Day weekend to early June and from Labor Day to Columbus Day. Between these spans, service was run daily, with five round trips per day. This service pattern continued at least through 2007, but by 2009 summer service was reduced to four round trips per day, and by 2011 the operating season ended on Labor Day.
According to the official history of the Chappaquiddick (Chappy) Ferry, the earliest that its operation can be documented is 1807, when it was run on demand with a rowboat. The ferry continued as a rowboat operation until 1929, when the first motor vessel was placed on the route.
The Chappy Ferry has always been privately operated, originally under licenses from Duke’s County and since 1962 under license from the Town of Edgartown. The licensees have changed many times. The present operating company was incorporated in 2007, and is owned by Peter S. and Sally Snipes Wells.
For many years, Chappy Ferry service has been provided by two boats running continuously during operating hours. The On Time II was launched in 1969, and the On Time III in 1975.
Rhode Island Fast Ferry (RIFF) was organized in 2003 by Charles A. Donadio, Jr., who had previously established and later sold the first high-speed ferry service between the Rhode Island mainland and Block Island.
RIFF began running service between Quonset Point in North Kingstown, Rhode Island and the town pier in Oak Bluffs in June 2003. This service initially used the 400-passenger high-speed catamaran Millennium, originally built for the Hingham commuter boat route. RIFF leased this boat in 2003 and 2004 from Fox Leasing in Connecticut and bought it in 2005.
RIFF used the Millennium on the Oak Bluffs route every operating season from 2003 through 2011. However, it proved to be too large for the demand. In 2012, RIFF replaced it with a new 149-passenger catamaran, Ava Pearl.
Each year from 2013 at least through 2016, the government of Bermuda leased the Millennium from April to September for ferry service there. In the winter of 2019, the Millennium sailed to San Francisco to begin serving under a one-year lease to the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District.
Through service by boat from the New York City area to Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket does not appear to have been operated in the steamboat era. However, as early as 1798 sailing packets running regularly between New York and New Bedford allowed connections to the islands.
Steamboat service between New York and New Bedford in the 1800s seems to have been run mostly for freight, except for a line that ran in 1874 and 1875.
In 1905, the New Haven Railroad’s steamship subsidiary, New England Navigation Company, inaugurated the New Bedford Line of steamers, carrying passengers between Manhattan and New Bedford from late June through September. NEN promoted this service as providing connections with its steamer service between New Bedford, Woods Hole, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.
This route was maintained until 1936. Frequency was usually six days a week in each direction, but was reduced to three days a week in the early 1930s. Discontinuance of the service after the end of the 1936 season was hastened by the New Haven Railroad’s 1935 bankruptcy, and no other operator tried to revive the boat line.
In 1998, Fox Navigation, owned by the Foxwoods Casino interests, attempted to start a daily high-speed catamaran service between New London, Connecticut and Vineyard Haven, but after a few trips the Town of Tisbury Board of Health shut it down because of code violations at the pier.
In the summer of 1999, Fox began running one round trip per day Friday through Sunday from New London to Vineyard Haven and a through trip from Jersey City, New Jersey, to Vineyard Haven on Friday nights, returning on Sunday nights. The New London route was run again in the summer of 2000, but the Jersey City route was not. Neither route ran in 2001, except for one trip on the New London route on Memorial Day weekend.
In November 2001, the Tisbury Selectmen denied Fox a permit to dock in Vineyard Haven in 2002. Opponents at a public hearing had complained of noise, fumes, and environmental damage from the catamarans, in addition to allegations that the vessels were traveling at an excessive speed in the harbor.
In 2003, Fox submitted a letter of interest to the Steamship Authority for operating ferry service between New Bedford and Martha’s Vineyard, but the company did not submit a formal proposal. This was the last attempt by Fox to serve the Vineyard, and in 2005 the company was dissolved.
SeaStreak revived summer weekend high-speed ferry service between the New York area and Martha’s Vineyard in 2009. As discussed above, New England Fast Ferry, which had taken over service between New Bedford and the Vineyard in 2003, had bought SeaStreak in 2008.
The 2009 service began with a trial on the July 4 weekend, sailing from Highlands, New Jersey, and two piers in Manhattan to the SSA Oak Bluffs terminal on July 2 and returning on July 5. Starting July 17, 2009, SeaStreak ran this route every weekend through Labor Day, going to the Vineyard on Friday afternoons and returning on Sunday afternoons.
SeaStreak, rebranded in 2012 as Seastreak, has run this route every summer since 2009. The operating season usually extends from Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day weekend, and there are some extra trips before and after July 4. Since the summer of 2015, Seastreak has extended all trips on the route to the SSA Nantucket terminal but the route now serves Oak Bluffs as an intermediate stop.
Viking Fleet of Montauk, New York, at the eastern end of Long Island, is primarily an operator of commercial fishing and sport fishing vessels, however the company also runs summer ferry routes from Montauk to Block Island and to New London. In 1996, Viking began running an annual summer trip from Montauk to Martha’s Vineyard for the general public.
Starting in 2002, Viking’s annual Martha’s Vineyard trip was combined with a whale watch excursion sponsored by the Coastal Research and Education Society of Long Island (CRESLI).
In 2005, after the Fox Navigation service from New York to the Vineyard had been discontinued and before the SeaStreak service was inaugurated, the Vineyard Gazette reported that Viking was considering starting high-speed ferry service from Montauk to Oak Bluffs and providing more than just the annual trips offered previously.
In 2007, Viking ran round trips between Montauk and Oak Bluffs during two weeks in July and two weeks in August. Each trip left Montauk on a Tuesday evening and left Oak Bluffs on the following Thursday night. This service employed the same monohull vessel used for the CRESLI trips. A service frequency of more than one round trip per year was not repeated after 2007.
The history of this service is combined with that of SSA service to Martha’s Vineyard in Appendix Section A.5.1
At the end of World War II, the US Navy and the Coast Guard had many surplus vessels to dispose of. This provided an opportunity for small businesses to start tour boat operations. One such company, Hyannis Steamship Line (HSL), was established in 1946 and acquired two former Coast Guard cutters. That year, HSL began running excursions between Hyannis and Nantucket for day-trippers.
HSL service ran only in summers and offered from one to three round trips a day. In 1954, HSL was renamed Nantucket Boat, Inc.
Demand for excursion service between Hyannis and Nantucket was sufficient to attract competitors. These included the Nantucket Steamship Line, which operated only for the 1950 season, the Baxter Line, which ran passenger service only in 1957, and the Nantucket Express, which entered the competition in 1952 and ran some service on the route until 1966.
At the end of the 1972 tourist season, Hyannis Harbor Tours, which had begun operating excursion service between Hyannis and Oak Bluffs in 1971, bought the assets of Nantucket Boat, Inc. These assets included the trade name Hi-Line, which Hyannis Harbor Tours changed to Hy-Line.
Hy-Line began running service between Hyannis and Nantucket in 1973, the same year that the SSA began moving its Nantucket service departure point from Woods Hole to Hyannis.
By 1976, Hy-Line was running five daily round trips between Hyannis and Nantucket during the peak summer season from late June to Labor Day. A 1979 schedule showed an overall operating season from April 27 to November 4, with five seasonal schedules.
The largest monohull boat ever owned by Hy-Line was the 800-passenger Great Point, delivered in 1988. In December 1995, Hy-Line began running year-round service between Hyannis and Nantucket with the newly built high-speed catamaran Grey Lady. The Coast Guard licensed this vessel for 149 passengers, but the SSA initially restricted Hy-Line to carrying 40 passengers per trip.
The 149-passenger Grey Lady II was launched in November 1997, and replaced the Grey Lady, which Hy Line sold to New York Waterway for Manhattan commuter service. The larger dimensions of the Grey Lady II were expected to increase stability in winter operations.
In 2003, Hy-Line took delivery of a 300-passenger catamaran, again named Grey Lady. The Grey Lady II was leased to an operator in California in 2003 and 2004, but returned to Hyannis in 2005 as the Lady Martha.
In May 2014, the SSA approved an application from Hy-Line to acquire a high-speed catamaran with a maximum capacity of 500 passengers and to discontinue monohull service between Hyannis and Nantucket when this boat arrived.
The new 493-passenger Grey Lady IV was supposed to go into service in May 2016, but because of production delays she did not do so until that September. The Grey Lady and the Grey Lady IV have been scheduled to provide all the service on the Hy-Line Hyannis–Nantucket route since then.
The Great Point was withdrawn from service after the 2015 season, and the vessel was later sold to a New York Harbor tour boat operator.
In 1994, Chatham businessman Alan McMullen established a seasonal ferry service between Harwich Port and Nantucket. This appears to have been the first time scheduled boat service was run between these points.
For this service, McMullen acquired a fast monohull vessel, built in 1988, and renamed it Freedom. The operating company for this route was formally incorporated as Freedom Cruise Line in 1999.
During the first two seasons, capacity of the Freedom was voluntarily limited to no more than 40 passengers per trip, which exempted it from SSA licensing. In July 1996, the SSA approved operation of the Freedom with a 60-passenger limit.
At the end of the 1996 season McMullen sought SSA approval to raise the passenger limit on the Freedom to 100. Nantucket residents who did not want more day-trippers coming to the island opposed the application. As a compromise, in 1997 the SSA approved an 80-passenger limit.
Throughout the years, service on this route has run from late May or early June through Columbus Day. There have been three round trips a day in the summer and one round trip per day in the spring and fall.
Alan McMullen owned Freedom Cruise Line until 2018 when it was acquired by John P. Sheeran III.
As detailed in Appendix Section 5.1, sailing ships began carrying passengers between New Bedford and Nantucket in the 1790s, and steamship service on this route began in 1829. Operation of this route passed to the first Steamship Authority in 1949. When the present SSA was activated in January 1961, it discontinued service to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket from New Bedford.
A private operator reinstated seasonal service between New Bedford and the Vineyard in 1972. New England Fast Ferry, now combined with Seastreak, took over this route in 2004.
Seastreak restored through service from New Bedford to Nantucket in 2016. Except in emergencies or outside the operating season for the Hy-Line Inter-Island route, the SSA does not allow Seastreak to combine the New Bedford–Nantucket route with the New Bedford–Oak Bluffs route.
Cuttyhunk is the westernmost of the Elizabeth Islands, which together form the town of Gosnold. This town was set off from Chilmark, on Martha’s Vineyard, in 1864. Gosnold, which has 75 residents according to the 2010 US Census, has the smallest population of any town in Massachusetts. Gosnold’s population was at its peak in 1920 when 181 people resided there. Currently, Cuttyhunk is the only part of Gosnold with a resident population, although some of the other islands have vacation homes.
At about the same time Gosnold became a town, a group of businessmen, mostly from New York, established the exclusive Cuttyhunk Fishing Club, which subsequently bought most of the real estate on Cuttyhunk. In 1875, the club was renamed the Cuttyhunk Club.
It is not clear when passenger ferry service between Cuttyhunk and the mainland was first established. However, by 1870 there was a post office on Cuttyhunk, which required a regular mail boat. An 1888 report by the US postmaster general showed that the operator of the steamboat carrying the Cuttyhunk mail was contracted to run 118 round trips a year. For three months of the year the mail service was provided six days a week and weekly service was provided for the rest of the year.
A Boston Globe feature article from July 21, 1889, described the Cuttyhunk steamer as carrying mail from New Bedford daily three months of the year, but rarely carrying passengers other than islanders and club members.
A Globe article in 1908 stated that the mail boat was still sent to Cuttyhunk once a week in winter months and daily except Sunday in the summer.
For several years before 1917, the New Bedford Towboat Corporation was the operator of scheduled steamboat service between New Bedford and Cuttyhunk.
In 1917, William Wood, who had bought much of the property on Cuttyhunk from the club, had a new boat, the Alert, built for ferry service. This boat served the New Bedford–Cuttyhunk route for 70 years under various owners.
In December 1983, the Cuttyhunk route was acquired by the Richard Hopps family, which ran it as Cuttyhunk Boat Line. In 1987, they replaced the Alert with the Alert II, a former oil rig crewboat with a capacity of 60 passengers.
In 2006, Jono Billings, who had worked as a captain on the Alert II the previous year, offered to buy Cuttyhunk Boat Line from the Hopps family. When the family refused to sell, Billings organized the Cuttyhunk Ferry Company. He bought the Captain John & Son III, which he renamed M/V Cuttyhunk, and started a competing service. The competition lasted for only a short time before the older company was put out of business. Cuttyhunk Ferry Company was still the operator in 2019.
Captain Jon Paul Hunter incorporated Triton Sea Enterprises in March 2000. In May 2001, Hunter bought the motor vessel Sea Horse and began offering on-demand water taxi service between New Bedford and Cuttyhunk as the Cuttyhunk Water Taxi division of Triton.
The original New Bedford terminal for this service was Niemiec Marine on Pope’s Island, accessible from the Fish Island Bridge on US Route 6 between New Bedford and Fairhaven. Starting in 2011, the Cuttyhunk Water Taxi website showed the terminal as Fisherman’s Wharf on the downtown New Bedford waterfront. Also starting in 2011, the website showed service available from New Bedford to the village of Menemsha on the southwest end of Martha’s Vineyard.
Since the beginning of English settlement of Boston in 1630, the Harbor Islands have seen a variety of uses, including military installations, prisons, hospitals, farms, private estates, and recreation areas. However, with a few exceptions, until late in the twentieth century travel to and from the islands was by private boats, as there was too little demand to call for commercial ferry service open to the general public. The exceptions included brief operations of ferries to Georges Island in the 1860s, 1870s, and 1890s for visitors to historic Fort Warren.
The possibility of converting at least some of the Harbor Islands to public recreation areas arose after World War II when the federal government began phasing out antiquated military installations and putting the land up for sale. A 1956 plan for expansion of recreational facilities under control of the Metropolitan District Commission (MDC), a predecessor of the present Department of Conservation and Recreation, suggested that the MDC buy some of the islands being sold by the federal government. The MDC made its first acquisitions under this plan of Georges and Lovells Islands in 1958. However, substantial improvements to facilities on the islands were needed before the islands could be opened for recreation.
The MDC officially opened Fort Warren to the public on July 4, 1961. Summer ferry service to Georges Island from a landing on Day Boulevard in South Boston began in August 1961. Ferry service to Georges Island run was from a pier on Northern Avenue in the summer of 1962, but the service was discontinued thereafter.
In the summer of 1966, the MDC authorized three boat operators including Massachusetts Bay Lines, to run service to Georges Island. However, this service seems to have been in the form of group charters rather than regularly scheduled trips open to all.
After 1962, the first scheduled ferry service to Georges Island was run in the summer of 1972 when MBL began stopping one trip a day in each direction on its Boston–Nantasket route at the island on request. This service was also offered in 1973 and 1974. In 1973, Bay State Cruises began including stops at Georges Island during weekend tours of Boston Harbor.
In the summer of 1975, the state sponsored a trial of free daily ferry service to Georges Island in conjunction with the official opening of the Boston Harbor Islands Park. In addition to Georges, the park included Lovells and Gallops Islands.
In 1976, under agreement with the state, Bay State Cruises began stopping its tours at Georges Island daily. Fares were charged from the mainland, but a separate operator ran free shuttle connections between the three islands.
The Bay State tours continued in 1977 and 1978, and by 1978 MBL was stopping two trips a day in each direction on the Boston–Nantasket route at Georges Island. On Sundays in 1979, service to Georges Island also included four round trips a day from the Hingham commuter boat terminal on the state-owned hovercraft run by MBL.
In 1980, Bay State, MBL, and Boston Harbor Cruises all ran scheduled service to Georges Island from Rowes Wharf or Long Wharf. The Department of Environmental Management provided free shuttle connections from Georges Island to Gallops, Lovells, Bumpkin, Grape, and Peddocks Islands. Inter-island service has been reconfigured many times since then.
The three boat lines continued running summer service to Georges Island throughout the 1980s, but by the early 1990s it was becoming clear that the service would not be viable with multiple companies competing for the same riders. This situation prompted state agencies to begin granting multi-year exclusive rights to one operator for all scheduled service to the islands.
Bay State Cruises was the first recipient of such rights, and the company provided the Harbor Islands service each summer through 1996. However, this company exited the Boston Harbor tour boat business after that summer.
Boston Harbor Cruises ran the Boston Harbor Islands ferry services from 1997 through 2003. Gallops Island was closed to the public before the start of the 2000 season because of asbestos contamination. It was still closed in 2018.
In 2004, the rights to service the islands went to Water Transportation Alternatives, the operator of the Quincy–Hull–Logan–Long Wharf commuter ferry route running under the name Harbor Express (HE). For the 2004 season, HE served the islands only by stopping some trips on the Quincy commuter route at Georges Island. In 2005, WTA acquired two additional vessels for dedicated service between Long Wharf and Georges Island. Some stops at the island on Quincy trips also continued.
Spectacle Island was added to the Harbor Islands Park in 2006, and HE began serving it. Starting in 2008, WTA used the name Boston’s Best Cruises (BBC) for most of its ferry services. Starting that year, BBC also ran the inter-island services.
BHC underbid WTA for the MBTA contract to run the Quincy commuter route effective July 1, 2013. BBC continued running the separate Harbor Islands services that year, but sold that business to BHC before the start of the 2014 season. BHC was still the operator of service to the Boston Harbor Islands in 2018.
Thompson Island is privately owned but is now part of the Boston Harbor Islands Park. Historically, ferry service to the island has been provided either by or under arrangement with its owner, currently the Thompson Island Education Center.
From 1980 to 1988, the Education Center ran a summer ferry service for the general public from Kelly’s Landing in South Boston to Thompson Island on schedules that varied from year to year.
From 1990 to 1993, Bay State Cruises, which was then the Georges Island ferry operator, also ran a Thompson Island ferry.
In 1995, the Education Center bought the ferry Outward Bound for service to Thompson Island. The Boston Economic Development Industrial Corporation (EDIC) pier on the Reserved Channel in South Boston became the mainland terminal for this route. Service open to the general public was run only on summer Saturdays from at least 2001 through 2006. From 2002 to 2005, the mainland terminal was the Courthouse pier in South Boston and the EDIC pier was an intermediate stop.
In 2007, the service was switched from Saturdays only to Sundays only, and continued as such through 2011. Starting in 2012, service was provided on Saturdays and Sundays. This pattern continued through 2018.
Little Brewster Island, the location of historic Boston Light, was first opened to the public as part of the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area in 1999. Because of the small area of the island, tours have always required advance reservations.
Starting in 2006, the vessel used for Little Brewster Island tours was usually the Columbia Point, owned and operated by the Marine Operations Division of the University of Massachusetts, Boston. However, in 2008 the Boston Harbor Islands website described the boat then in service as “a unique landing craft vessel” from which passengers would climb down a ladder directly onto the beach. That year, some trips were run through from the Courthouse pier to Little Brewster; others required a transfer at Georges Island.
Because of construction work in progress on Little Brewster Island, no tours were run in 2013. Because of storm damage to the wharf on the island, no tours were allowed to land there in 2018.
Boston is unusual among North American cities in having water taxis that run on demand and offer many choices for boarding and alighting locations. In most other cities, ferries that are identified as water taxis run on fixed routes and schedules.
Water taxi service in Boston Harbor began as an outgrowth of fixed-route ferry service to Logan Airport. Seasonal ferry service between the downtown Boston waterfront and the airport began in 1985 and was funded by the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport). This service was called the Airport Water Shuttle (AWS). In 1987, the redevelopers of Rowes Wharf became cosponsors with Massport of the AWS.
In 1995, Rob McPherson, who had been a captain on the AWS for three years and who also had once been a Boston cab driver, founded City Water Taxi (CWT). McPherson planned to offer Logan ferry passengers a greater choice of downtown landings than Rowes Wharf. CWT initially ran a fixed-route loop with stops including Logan, the downtown waterfront, the World Trade Center, Charlestown, Chelsea, and the North End. CWT also offered on-demand service, which soon became its main business. Starting about the year 2000, CWT was marketed as The Checkerboard Fleet.
The 1997 inventory of Boston Harbor ferries showed only two boats in the CWT fleet. By 2001, this had expanded to four, and in 2002 a fourth boat was added. By 2008, the CWT fleet had grown to nine boats.
AWS responded to the CWT competition by adding fixed-route service to Logan from the Courthouse pier starting in 1999 and from the World Trade Center starting in 2001.
A steep decline in airline travel after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, was reflected in lost ridership on the AWS. By the summer of 2003, AWS was running at a substantial deficit, but neither Massport nor the owners of Rowes Wharf were willing to subsidize it. This led to the end of AWS service in August 2003.
After AWS shut down, John Ryan, a former AWS captain, acquired some of the former AWS boats and began competing with CWT under the name Rowes Wharf Water Taxi. In November 2004, the latter company became a subsidiary of Rowes Wharf Water Transport (RWWT).
In April 2006, Ryan left RWWT to run Seaport Central, LLC. The mission of this company was to provide “crewboat services to construction, engineering, and diving companies in the Massachusetts area.” Seaport Central also formed a subsidiary, Boston Harbor Water Taxi (BHWT), which used a former AWS and RWWT boat in competition with CWT and RWWT water taxi service. BHWT ceased operating sometime in 2011, and Seaport Central was dissolved by court order in 2012.
Rob McPherson retired in 2014, and sold the CWT business and fleet to Boston Harbor Cruises, which has continued running it. Nine former CWT boats still made up most of the BHC water taxi fleet through 2016, but the boats had new names and a new color schemes.
In 2017, BHC enlarged the water taxi fleet with acquisition of the vessels II, III, V, VIII, and X from Island Navigation in Avalon, California. The oldest of these five boats was built in 1975 and the newest was built in 1991.
RWWT has gone through a few corporate reorganizations and changes in management, but the company was still running water taxi service in Boston Harbor in 2019.
In 1850, an act of the Massachusetts legislature authorized John W. Wonson and associates to run a ferry in Gloucester Harbor from Gloucester Village near Beach Street to Eastern Point on an exclusive basis for ten years. An act approved in 1860 authorized Israel C. Gill and associates to continue this ferry for an additional ten years. It is not clear how long this service continued, and the authorization was not renewed when it expired. This was the last local ferry service in Gloucester Harbor, of which there is evidence, for more than 130 years.
In 2000, George A. Schlicte, a commercial fisherman, incorporated Salty Dog Sea Tours. This company established a loop route in Gloucester Harbor running from Memorial Day to Labor Day each year. The stops were at Harbor Loop, Ten Pound Island, Rocky Neck, and Cripple Cove. The last year that Salty Dog had an active website was 2004, and the company was dissolved in 2012.
Harbor Tours, Inc. of Cape Ann was organized in 1977. This company initially operated tours of Gloucester Harbor and lighthouse tours making a complete circuit of Cape Ann. The company name was changed to Cape Ann Whale Watch in 1983, but it was changed back to Harbor Tours in 1991.
In 2008, Harbor Tours announced the start of Harbor Shuttle, providing a new hop-on, hop-off loop route in Gloucester Harbor. Trips originated at Captain Solomon Jacobs Park and stopped at St. Peters Park Town Landing, Rocky Neck, Cripple Cove Landing, and (on request) Cruiseport Gloucester.
Harbor Tours has run this route every summer since 2008. The vessel used for this service, the Lady Jillian, was built in 2003 as the Sirenia. She was originally used in Tampa, Florida on “Ecotours” run by the Lowry Park Zoological Society to view “river turtles, hawks, herons, manatees, and dozens of other animals.”
Through boat service between Fall River and Block Island had no precedent before the implementation of the present route. Service between Fall River and Newport did have precedents from the steamboat era.
The first steamboat service between Fall River and Newport was started in 1846, connecting with newly opened railroad service between Boston and Fall River. Local steamboat service between Fall River and Newport does not seem to have been operated after 1848.
From 1847 to 1864 and from 1869 to 1937, overnight steamer service between Fall River and New York included an intermediate stop at Newport. This service was run as part of a Boston–New York route; the segment between Boston and Fall River was a rail route. The schedule was not conducive to local travel between Fall River and Newport in either direction, and after 1864, when those two cities were connected by rail, there was no need for a parallel ferry.
Rail passenger service between Fall River and Newport ended in 1938, one year after the end of steamer service between Fall River and New York. By then there was bus service between Fall River and Newport.
Boat service between Fall River and Newport was revived in the early 2000s in the form of some short-lived harbor tours out of Fall River that included occasional trips to Newport for day-trippers.
The present service between Fall River, Newport, and Block Island originated with an effort in 2012 by the mayor of Fall River to attract an operator for such a route. This initiation of this service was intended not as a response to a need for water transportation, but as a means of helping to revitalize Fall River by attracting people to shop or dine in that city on the way to or from the boat.
Interstate Navigation (IN), which had run a seasonal boat line between Newport and Block Island for many years, ran a one-day demonstration trip between Newport and Block Island in June 2012 with a slow monohull. In 2013, IN replaced its monohull service between Newport and Block Island with a high-speed catamaran. In 2014, IN extended one daily round trip on this line to Fall River.
IN first began running seasonal service between Providence and Block Island in the 1950s, and Newport was an intermediate stop on that route. As early as 1988, there were reports that IN wanted to discontinue the Providence–Newport section of the route because of insufficient ridership. However, IN did not discontinue this segment until 2000, when the state of Rhode Island began funding a new ferry service between Providence and Newport.
The Islander, the high-speed catamaran used on the Fall River–Block Island–Newport route, was originally launched in 2000 as the Royal Miss Belmar for a New Jersey company that ran charter and fishing boats. However, between 2001 and 2003 she was leased to several different operators for New York Harbor commuter service.
From 2006 to 2011, the Royal Miss Belmar was run seasonally between St. Thomas and St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands. In July 2011, she ran aground on Great St. James Cay. She was removed by a salvage company, and after extensive repairs she was bought by IN and put into service between Newport and Block Island in 2013.
The ferry route that ran between Lynn and Boston in the summers of 2014 to 2015 and in 2017 was the first modern-day ferry service between those cities, but not the first-ever service between those locations.
During the 1870s, steamboat service between Boston and Lynn was run as an extension of a route between Boston and Nahant that a series of operators had been running since the 1820s. The first steam railroad route between Boston and Lynn opened in 1838. A second route opened in 1853, and a third route in 1875, leaving little potential demand for steamboat service. Nevertheless a series of companies advertised steamboat service between Boston and Lynn from 1892 to 1894, from 1898 to 1900, and in 1902.
In addition to through service between Boston and Lynn, steamboat service between Lynn and Nahant connecting at Nahant with steamboat service to Boston was run from 1892 to 1908.
The Cultural Connector, which ran in the summers of 2014 to 2016, was the latest in a series of unsuccessful attempts to provide tourist-oriented circulator ferry service in Boston Harbor on fixed routes and schedules.
The boat used on the Cultural Connector, the Huzzah, was a veteran of other failed services elsewhere. It was originally launched in 1999 as Hope, one of two boats built for commuter service between Providence and Pawtucket, Rhode Island, via the Pawtucket, Seekonk, and Providence Rivers. These boats had unusually low profiles, allowing for passage under low bridges, which made them suitable for running under the Northern Avenue Bridge when it was closed.
Service on the Pawtucket commuter boat route operated seasonally in 1999 and 2000, and may have run in 2001 and 2002. The boats were put up for sale in 2003.
In 2005, the Hope was sold to new owners who renamed her Providence Piers. They planned to run excursions between Providence and Bristol and a short ferry route between Providence and East Providence, but neither service seems to have materialized. By 2013, the Providence Piers had become the BHC Huzzah.
In August 1995, Massport, the City of Boston, and the Boston Redevelopment Authority jointly sponsored two routes, both marketed as Boston by Boat and the MuSEAum Connection. One route started from the pier in Fort Point Channel at the Children’s Museum and the Computer Museum, made stops at the New England Aquarium and Battery Wharf (to serve the Old North Church), and ended at the Charlestown Navy Yard near the USS Constitution. Passengers could transfer at the Navy Yard to the second route, which ran through the Charles River locks and ended at a pier in the Lechmere Canal near the Museum of Science. These routes were run with boats form the City Water Taxi fleet. Service was offered seven days a week.
The next attempt at such a service was made in the summer of 2005. That time, it was sponsored by Massport, the City of Boston, Save the Harbor Save the Bay, and City Water Taxi. This service was a single route with eight stops: World Trade Center, Moakley Courthouse, Rowes Wharf, Christopher Columbus Park, Lewis Wharf, Lovejoy Wharf, Tudor Wharf in Charlestown, and a stop near the USS Constitution. This route ran only on Saturdays and Sundays. It was discontinued permanently by October 2005.
In 2011, Captain Donald Benoit incorporated Boston Harbor Mini Tours and Shuttle, LLC. Benoit had previously run charter cruises in Boston Inner Harbor on a 12-passenger sloop for several summers.
By late June 2011, Boston Harbor Mini Tours was running a fixed-route loop service in Boston Inner Harbor under the name Cityside Harbor Shuttle. Service was offered Thursday through Sunday. Two boats were in service at any given time running on one-hour loops in opposite directions. On the clockwise loop the shuttle stopped at Fan Pier, Barking Crab Restaurant, Atlantic Wharf, Battery Wharf, Charlestown Navy Yard Pier 6, and Liberty Wharf. The shuttle on the counter-clockwise loop made these stops in the reverse order.
By the end of August 2011, service on a fixed route and schedule was run only on Saturdays. On-call service was offered on Thursdays and Fridays, but there was no Sunday service.
In 2012, service was run with one boat on a one-way loop. The company website omitted days of operation. The stops that year were Navy Yard Pier 6, Liberty Wharf, Fan Pier, Courthouse, New England Aquarium, and Battery Wharf. Before the end of the 2012 season, service to Pier 6 was discontinued because of the poor condition of the landing. The Atlantic Wharf stop was reinstated, and a Logan Airport stop was added between the Battery Wharf and Liberty Wharf stops.
In 2013, the name of the service was changed to Boston Harbor Shuttle. One boat ran on a counterclockwise loop starting from Fan Pier and stopping at Liberty Wharf, Charlestown Pier 6, Battery Wharf, New England Aquarium, Atlantic Wharf, and Moakley Courthouse. Service was run Thursday through Sunday with varying spans of operation.
In May 2014, the same loop was advertised as running only on Saturdays and Sundays. By August 2014, the company was running only charter trips for private parties.