Since April 25, Blue Line MBTA service between the Airport and Bowdoin stops has been suspended for repair work. Riders have been instead shuttled by bus and ferry between East Boston and downtown.
Despite receiving positive feedback from riders, the MBTA is not considering making the ferry service permanent after the Blue Line service resumes on May 9, according to Joe Pesaturo, the MBTA’s director of communications.
“Not at this time,” he told GBH Morning Edition host Jeremy Siegel when asked if the service could be permanent. “We really appreciate our riders' patience on this.”
On a recent trip on the Blue Line, Siegel noticed “smiles all around,” with many riders saying they would like the "romantic" service to continue. That includes Jocelin Depaz, who has been taking the ferry to school from her home in East Boston.
“As I like to say, I’m living my ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ dream every single time I take it in the morning," she said, referring to the popular show's characters who took a ferry to work at the hospital every day.
“We're seeing a ridership increase incrementally each day, from close to 800 on Monday to 1,380 yesterday,” Pesaturo said. “So it seems like the word is spreading that this is a good alternative during this temporary suspension of service.”
Before the suspension, the Blue Line carried an average of 40,000 riders per day — a capacity not feasible for the ferry services. Plus, Pesaturo noted, it's much more expensive to offer the ferry service. The two boats being used — the Flying Cloud and the Lightning — are both 26 years old and also need repairs.
This is Jocelin Depaz and Tatiana Vasquez. They’re taking the ferry back to Eastie from school.— Jeremy Siegel (@jersiegel) April 27, 2022
Jocelin likes to say she’s “living her Grey’s Anatomy life” while taking the ride (they take the ferry in the show) and loves it
Tatiana likes the views & fresh air—unlike the train. pic.twitter.com/eXilW6F82T
“We are postponing the overhaul work [on the boats] until the Blue Line suspension is over. And then this very critical work will take place,” he said. “We really need to get this overhaul work done on these boats, so we can't just keep them in service in perpetuity.”
Pesaturo says that just a few days' worth of positive data isn’t enough to make a permanent change. “And I think most data scientists would agree that that's not an appropriate sample to start making permanent or long-term decisions about a service,” he said.
The MBTA is confident that the repairs and service maintenance happening now will improve Blue Line service when riders return.
“It's going to be even more reliable,” Pesaturo said about the improvements. “So we're really confident that once we resume service, people will see an even more reliable service along the Blue Line. And we just think it gives people more options.”