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New company picked to run MBTA commuter ferries between Boston, Quincy and Hull

Posted by Matt Rocheleau  May 22, 2013 08:12 PM

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For the first time in more than a decade, a new company will operate the MBTA’s commuter ferry service between Boston, Quincy and Hull, officials said.

The state Transportation Department board on Wednesday awarded Nolan Associates LLC, doing business as Boston Harbor Cruises, a 3-year, 9-month contract for submitting the lowest bid of $15,793,105, T spokesman Joe Pesaturo said. The contract begins July 1.

The current holder of the contract, Water Transportation Alternatives, Inc., doing business as Boston's Best Cruises, lost out after submitting a bid that was $793,444 higher, Pesaturo said.

The company has held the contract with a subsidy since 2002, when the service became MBTA-owned, he said.

The website for Boston’s Best Cruises says the company has operated the ferry routes dating back to 1996.

At the state Transportation Department board meeting Wednesday, William Walker, owner of Boston's Best Cruises, said he was upset and wanted more details about the process the state took in awarding the new contract.

He also said expressed concern that the contract change would lead to layoffs and that there would not be enough time for the new contract holder to take transition smoothly.

Officials from the Boston’s Best Cruises and Boston Harbor Cruises could not immediately be reached Wednesday night for further comment.

The contract is for the operation of two of the MBTA’s four commuter ferry routes – the F2 and F2H.

The F2, also known as Harbor Express, runs between Quincy and Boston via Logan. Trips serving Hull are named F2H.

Ridership on the F2 and F2H routes combined was 284,937 during fiscal year 2009, according to the most-recent available statistics from the T.

Boston Harbor Cruises also operates the other two MBTA commuter ferry routes -- the F1, which runs between Boston and Hingham, and the F4, which runs between Long Wharf in Boston and the city's Charlestown neighborhood, Pesaturo said.

The company's contracts with the MBTA for the F1 and F4 routes expire March 31, 2017.

E-mail Matt Rocheleau at mjrochele@gmail.com. Jarret Bencks can be reached at bencks.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JarretBencks.
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