SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

September 9, 2013

Salem ferry had 'terrific' summer

SALEM — With two months to go in the tourism season, the Salem Ferry has carried almost as many riders as it did all of last year.

“It’s been a terrific summer, in particular for the Salem Ferry,” said Alison Nolan, general manager of Boston Harbor Cruises, which operates 32 vessels.

Through August — the unofficial end of summer — the ferry had transported 42,500 passengers between the Blaney Street landing and Long Wharf in Boston.

The total for all of last year, which got off to a late start due to boat repairs, was 43,000.

Ridership is up 49 percent, Nolan said.

The 7 a.m. commuter run is also alive and well, growing from an average of 35 riders last year to about 60. Some of that increase is likely due to the closing of the Salem commuter rail station during reconstruction.

Although business is up significantly, the numbers are far below those reported by the previous ferry operator, Boston’s Best Cruises, which dropped the Salem ferry after the 2011 season.

Boston’s Best Cruises, which had 73,000 passengers two years ago, discontinued daily service after six seasons, saying the business was not financially viable.

Boston Harbor Cruises raised rates when it took over, which has helped boost revenues.

Although a financial analysis won’t be done until the end of the season, Nolan said the numbers are looking good.

“We’re committed 100 percent to the Salem ferry and also to the city of Salem,” Nolan said. “People return with not only a great impression of the city of Salem, but also of Boston Harbor Cruises.”

The city-owned Nathaniel Bowditch, a 149-passenger, high-speed catamaran, offers a 55-minute ride from the Blaney Street landing in Salem to Long Wharf in Boston. A round-trip adult ticket is $27, with a 20 percent discount for Salem residents. The ferry operates from Memorial Day through Halloween.

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