Sep 21, 2022 - News

Many don't know about MBTA's Eastie ferry return

A lone passenger had the Eastie ferry to himself Tuesday night. Photo: Steph Solis/Axios 

The MBTA relaunched its ferry service between downtown and East Boston last week in what’s been described as a win for Eastie, but some locals say they didn’t know about the ferry. Others say they can’t rely on it to get to work.

Driving the news: About 1,750 riders rode the ferry daily between Long Wharf and Lewis Mall when it first launched after the Blue Line trains were suspended for tunnel repairs this spring, per the MBTA.

  • The ferry is back until Nov. 30, offering rides 7am to 7:45pm on weekdays, and less frequently on weekends, thanks to funding from the state budget.
  • A ride costs $2.40 (the same as the T).

Why it matters: State and local officials who support ferry service see it as a way to connect Eastie, a working-class, majority-immigrant neighborhood, with the rest of Boston. 

  • “The hope is that this service can benefit people in that neighborhood,” Jascha Franklin-Hodge, Boston's chief of streets, told reporters at a media roundtable. 

Yes, but: Commuters who spoke to Axios outside Maverick T station this week say they would try the ferry if they get the chance, but that it doesn’t operate early or late enough to get them to work on time.

  • “Maybe if I changed jobs or had a more convenient schedule, I would try it,” said Henry Cano, an Eastie resident who works overnight cleaning buildings in Boston. For now, Cano catches the T at night and waits until 5am to catch the first morning train home.
  • Matt McPherson, who owns the Cafe Iterum down the street from Lewis Mall, says he appreciates the accessibility the ferry offers him, but notes that there’s no public transit option for his employee who starts her job at 5am or his friends in the restaurant industry who work past midnight.

What’s next: The ferry shuts down after Thanksgiving and resumes on March 1, 2023. 

  • While Boston does not run the MBTA, Franklin-Hodge said he’ll be talking with others about how the city can help make the ferry more accessible, whether that means advertising the service in multiple languages or advocating for longer hours. 
  • Asked about the MBTA’s hours, spokesperson Lisa Battiston said in an email, “we are not planning to adjust this service schedule at this time.”

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