Any addition to transportation options other than more cars and wider highways is cause for jubilation for a whole host of reasons.
Especially since the automobile is evil. It’s helped destroy the fabric of cities from the Bronx to New Bedford by putting pavement through once-vibrant neighborhoods. Give me congestion pricing and street cars any day of the week. Also, the evil auto is an environmental disaster on four wheels.
And then, of course, there’s the, um, proficiency of New England drivers. Especially as practiced in places like Boston and New Bedford.
But I digress. Let’s forget all that and let’s get back to the jubilation.
Seastreak, which operates high-speed ferry service to and from Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket from New Bedford’s Ferry Terminal on the State Pier, has been teasing a new service via Facebook posts all week.
That service is….the Sea-Jitney! Which consists of short-hop rides on the water from and to New Bedford and which will connect Green Airport, Providence Amtrak Station…and the New Bedford Ferry Terminal. (Pictured above.)
Jitneys used to mean nickel bus rides about a hundred years ago. But the term became popular for ferry service when the famous Hampton Jitney began service between Manhattan and the Hamptons on Long Island in the 1970s. Fans of “Sex and the City” may recall Carrie and the gang boarding the jitney for a memorable weekend.
Now, this is no substitute for adequate public transportation for the region. Seastreak is privately owned and operated, and fares will reflect that fact. (But probably will also include full bar and Wi-Fi, like their island ferries!)
But anything that helps the beleaguered state of affairs that passes now as regional transportation is welcome news.
Many people – this writer among them – recognize that the lack of transportation options in Southeastern Massachusetts and even Southerly Rhode Island is a depressant to the region’s vibrancy – social, economic and cultural.
In addition to waiting eons for the return of rail, Massachusetts RTAs – Regional Transportation Authorities – like SRTA are chronically underfunded and lack enough zeal in carrying out their daily operations.
In fact, Gov. Charlie Baker’s budget only provides level funding for cash-Strapped RTAs, a decision that the group Transportation for Massachusetts is vigorously fighting. (FIND OUT MORE HERE.)
So, while Seastrak’s Sea-Jitney is welcome news, it’s important to remember that it’s not an answer to solving the region’s long-standing lack of good public transportation policy.
It is, however, another win for New Bedford – and burnishes its appeal as the region’s hub in the most elemental way possible.
By doubling down on its historic appeal as a port city with historic and eternal ties to the water.
That’s always a cause for jubilation.
- The Sea-Jitney begins service on May 17, 2018. Schedules and fares have yet to published; check back to NewBedfordCoworking.com for that information when it becomes available.