SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

May 5, 2012

Commuter trip is in ferry bid

SALEM — The Boston cruise company launching a bid to take over the Salem Ferry confirmed yesterday that it plans to offer commuter service.

A spokeswoman for Boston Harbor Cruises said they would do a 7 a.m. morning ride to Boston and an evening return trip.

The current operator, Boston's Best Cruises, informed city officials this winter that it plans to drop commuter service and cut back spring and fall service if it remains the ferry operator for 2012.

That decision prompted a protest by the estimated 30 to 40 commuter riders, who met with city officials.

Mayor Kim Driscoll sought new proposals from ferry companies after learning of the plans to drop commuters and reduce daily service in the "shoulder" months of May, June, September and October.

The Salem Ferry, a 149-passenger, high-speed vessel, makes about a half-dozen, 50-minute round trips a day between the Blaney Street landing and Long Wharf in Boston between Memorial Day weekend and Halloween.

The only bid submitted by Thursday's deadline was from Boston Harbor Cruises, a large cruise company that runs several high-speed ferries in Boston Harbor.

However, details of its proposal were not known until yesterday.

"We did propose seven days," said Alison Nolan, general manager of Boston Harbor Cruises, She said the company plans to runs daily ferries between Salem and Boston from Memorial Day weekend through Halloween, which has been the schedule the past few years.

Boston's Best Cruises wanted to cut back to long weekends in the spring and fall, and do daily service at the peak of the tourist season and during good weather in July and August. The planned service reduction was due largely to high operational costs, especially fuel, and low ridership in the so-called "shoulder" months, the ferry operator said.

Boston Harbor Cruises, which ran the Salem Ferry for a few years a decade ago, said it believes there are enough riders and sufficient growth potential to run the ferry every day.

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