City Plan for Spring Ferry Service Moving Forward

March 10, 2014
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It’s full steam ahead for the city of Lynn’s plans to bring ferry service to downtown Boston for Lynn and North Shore residents.

According to Lynn Economic Development and Industrial Council (EDIC) Executive Director James Cowdell, the city has put out a request for bids seeking a vendor-provided ferry service, that could begin serving downtown Boston this May for a five-month seasonal pilot program, which could likely last as much as two years.

A bidder’s conference for interested ferry providers will be held on March 12, with the deadline to submit proposals set for March 19. Assuming the city receives at least one qualified bid, a vendor could be under contract with the city by sometime in April, leaving plenty of time to develop a schedule, identify a landing space in Boston Harbor and begin advertising the launch of the new service.

While the city is engaged in the process of procuring a vendor to furnish and operate the service, the EDIC is also working with the state to determine if available grant funding can be used to offset the cost of the ferry operation.

“We have $1.6 million in funding from the Seaport Advisory Council, which is now under the umbrella of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation,” explained Cowdell. “At this point, we’re waiting for a letter (from MassDOT and Seaport Advisory) authorizing the use of those funds to provide a subsidy to a pilot program for Lynn.”

According to Cowdell, a city hired contractor has estimated the cost of a five-month seasonal service at approximately $750,000 per year. At that rate, the city would be able to provide up to two years of subsidized ferry service to downtown Boston.

“Obviously, we have to get the authorization from (MassDOT) in order to use the funding for subsidy, so the funding is not in place yet, but we have had discussions with the state and we haven’t heard anything that would indicate the state is not willing to do that,” added Cowdell.

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