The predictable costliness of an unused ferry.

The state has announced the end of the sparsely used ferry from Bristol to alleviate traffic on the Washington Bridge. Amanda Milkovits has some of the details:

Since its inception on Dec. 21, when just 162 passengers boarded the ferries, ridership on the ferries between Bristol and Providence has reached 2,814, through Sunday, Dec. 31. The boats have run every day, except for Christmas and New Year’s Day, and RIDOT found that ridership was higher on some of the days around the holidays than on other weekdays.

The state has so far spent $738,000 through Tuesday to provide the ferry service, including the fuel, said RIDOT spokesman Charles St. Martin. The total cost, including the fuel and renting the barge for the ferry dock, is around $66,597 per day, according to RIDOT.

That works out to $262 per passenger, and an average of about 255 passengers per day barely affects the 90,000-per-day traffic across the bridge.

One can understand the well-meaning impulse; a ferry likely came to the mind of anybody who wondered how people could get across the bridge.  But rational people who factor in budgets to the smallest degree should have quickly dismissed the idea.  Much of the traffic through Providence doesn’t stop in Providence.  A ferry might make sense when a large number of people are going to a specific, walkable place.

Indeed, if a ferry did make sense, it would probably exist already, and for a profit.

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