Every summer I make the five-hour drive from New York to Hyannis
Port, Mass., where I board a ferry for my annual pilgrimage to
Nantucket. The ferry boats, while not exactly the last word in
comfort -- slow-moving, with uncomfortable wooden benches and lousy
food -- retain an air of romance about them, like old wooden
roller-coasters and Rheingold beer.
Now it looks as if my faithful old tubs and many others like
them across the country are about to find themselves in the
crosshairs. According to a San Francisco-based environmental outfit
called Bluewater Network, ferries are serious polluters, blowing
more garbage into the air per passenger mile than cars and buses
combined. Way, way more.
The EPA also has ferries on the brain. It will give operators
until 2006 to pare down exhaust emissions by nearly 50%. What
that's going to do to the price of a ride for the millions of
people in 35 states who ride ferries each year is anybody's
Surprisingly, while a few interested parties dispute the
specific numbers, nobody yet has attempted to deny the allegation
that ferries are an environmental nightmare. Everybody just seems a
little sad that such a gentle mode of transport has to have a
downside. I'm not so crazy about it myself.