Senator Edwards shares her thoughts on water transportation in the district

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(Boston, MA – March 26, 2024) – The Healey Administration has made historic investments in water transportation in the past two years. One such example is the hiring of David Perry as the first Director of Commuter Ferry for the MBTA, making him the first person to be solely dedicated to ferry operations.

Another example is starting the ferry season earlier this year. The ferries for East Boston will start on April 1st, and for Winthrop on April 29th. Both will run until November 30th.

“I am so excited to see the continued growth of our ferry system. Also, I would like to say, ‘welcome aboard’ to David Perry, pun intended.”

Starting the season earlier is part of a larger effort, spearheaded by Senator Brendan Crighton, requesting several improvements to the ferry system. Senator Lydia Edwards, Representative Jeff Turco, Representative Adrian Madaro, Chair Aaron Michlewitz, and members of the Quincy and Lynn delegations all signed the letter.

East Boston Ferry
Photo credit: Alessandra M. Conte for EastBoston.com

Senator Edwards believes that while we have accomplished a lot, we need to continue to advocate for water transportation. Examples of Senator Edwards’s advocacy include securing state funding for Winthrop’s ferry totaling $2 million ($1 million for each year of the tunnel closure), as well as coordinating with fellow senators to pool bonding funding totaling $28 million for ferry planning,infrastructure, vessel procurement, and accessibility.

“As a freshman senator, I organized several of my colleagues to take our bonding allocations and put them together for a waterfront transportation system from Gloucester to Quincy. I am still grateful to Senator Crighton, Senator Joan Lovely, Senator John Keenan, and Senator Tarr,” she said.

In recent talks with the MBTA, Senator Edwards was excited to learn about big plans for the near future.

First, we expect (though cannot promise) that the Blue Line will be free, and the ferry will be subsidized during the tunnel closure this summer. Second, the new Low Income Fare pilot program will apply to M Passes, so qualifying members of the public will receive a reduced rate. This was music to Senator Edwards’s ears, as she is the lead Senate sponsor of low-income fares legislation.Still, we have a lot to push for to make sure this is a viable system.

Senator Edwards will continue to advocate for several things, including: an integrated payment system so that the Charlie Card will work on the ferry, bus, and T; fare equity to ensure that Winthrop residents pay the same amount as East Boston residents per ride; an additional vessel to increase frequency; and finally, a new navigation plan that connects Quincy to the Hull/Hingham line, thus allowing Winthrop to have stops in East Boston (airport), Seaport, and Long Wharf only.As we enter budget season, one of the areas Senator Edwards is focused on is ensuring the ferry system is funded. Currently, there is no funding allocated in the budget. “I think that is an oversight. We just talked with the Administration about how cost-effective and environmentally friendly ferries are,” she said.

The total projected cost to fund the East Boston, Lynn, and Winthrop ferries is $5 million.

“As we kick off a new ferry season, it’s important to note how far we’ve come and what there is to look forward to”As we kick off a new ferry season, it’s important to note how far we’ve come and what there is to look forward to,” remarked Edwards.