Ferry idea just might sail

Thursday, October 22, 2009
By Cary Shuman

Town Manager James McKenna said that funds from a $950,000 Federal grant should allow Winthrop to have a commuter ferry boat service up and running by the spring.

McKenna talked about the proposed ferry service during a presentation about the improvements being made at the Winthrop Public Landing. McKenna thanked U.S. Congressman Edward Markey for securing the grant for the town.

The ferry would take passengers from Winthrop to the Rowe’s Wharf in Boston.

Town Harbormaster Chuck Famolare said he was excited about the prospects of having commuter ferry service available for Winthrop residents. The town has never had ferry service.

“We’re going to put out an RFP (request for proposals) for ferry service operators and everything should come together around May 1,” said Famolare.

Famolare said the ferry will run out of the town pier and have its own berth (ferry terminal).

“This is a fantastic opportunity for the town,” said Famolare. “It’s part of what we, as a community, have been talking about and working toward for the past 12 years – and we’re that close to it being completed. It’s very exciting.”

The harbormaster said the ferry ride from Winthrop to Boston would take approximately 25 minutes. “We’ve promised the state and the federal government that the most it would be is $5 each way. People could park at the Landing, go to work or visit Boston, and return on the ferry.”

The ferry could also be used for excursions to the Harbor Islands, charters, lunch and dinner cruises, birthday parties, and other social events. “There are plenty of opportunities for ferry operators who make a bid, to earn extra money so they’re not just relying on the $5 fee per person,” said Famolare.

Famolare said the ferry service could stimulate tourism in the town as people board the ferry in Boston for a day trip to Winthrop.

Town Councillor Linda Calla, who is a local realtor, said the ferry service from Boston to Winthrop could provide a boost to the town in terms of visibility and drawing people in to Winthrop restaurants and stores.

“When people come and see what a pretty seaside town Winthrop is and the beaches and yacht clubs we have here, I think they’ll want to keep coming back,” said Calla. “We also have some fabulous restaurants in the town and people can enjoy the great food and atmosphere and spend much less than they would in Boston,” said Calla. “I’m hopeful that the ferry will lead to some positive things in the town.”

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