Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Boston Harbor Islands ferry reservations

While the prices for the ferries to the Boston Harbor Islands have increased this year (understandably, due to the sharp spike in fuel prices), one of the improvements made by park management is to have dedicated ferries that go from Long Wharf in Boston directly to Spectacle Island (as well as ferries that go directly from Boston to Georges Island). In previous years, ferries would stop at Georges Island and then Spectacle Island on the way back to Boston and it would not be uncommon for the boats to not have enough room to accommodate all who were waiting at Spectacle to return back to Boston, which led to delays and sometimes a frustrating first-time visit to the islands. With these dedicated ferries, it eliminates the scenario where a rush of people boarding ferries at Georges Island will impact those at Spectacle Island. From what I've heard, it's made the ferry service operate much more smoothly this year and has been a definite enhancement in service.

Another change this year is that during the peak months when you buy your ferry ticket at Long Wharf, you will also have to make reservations for a specific time out to the islands and also for a time back to Boston. This is to ensure that ferries coming back to Boston late in the afternoon will be facing an unexpected number of passengers that they are unable to accommodate. It means visitors will have to do a little more planning when taking a trip out to the islands in terms of estimating when they will return, but it's another move that will minimize the delays on getting ferries back to Boston (some of which could be 30-45 minutes last year) and provide more certainty to when visitors can get back to Boston. Ferry schedules are available on www.harborislands.org.

One interesting stat I heard on Sunday out on Spectacle Island is that boat traffic in Boston Harbor is down by 40%. Presumably, because the high price of fuel. If that's true, it also means ferries are running into less traffic getting to and from the islands.

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