Expanding Water Transportation to Open Up the Seaport District

With some of America’s most congested cities situated on waterways, using water taxis and ferries to transport commuters seems a no brainer. The Massachusetts Convention Center Authority’s 2019 Better Government Competition submission highlighted the benefits of this transit mode, using their North Station Seaport Ferry Service as a case study.

The Seaport District is one of Boston’s fastest-growing neighborhoods. However, development has generated tremendous demand for transportation. The 2015 South Boston Waterfront Sustainable Transportation Plan identified access to the Seaport District from North Station as a critical need.

Several large employers in the area attempted to address the issue by providing shuttle-bus service for employees, but the cost was prohibitive and it worsened congestion. The transportation plan set a long-term goal to transition from shuttle buses to ferry service on the underutilized Boston Harbor. A 2017 study funded by MassDOT and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection analyzed potential dock locations and route options for a ferry between Lovejoy Wharf at North Station and Fan Pier.

The result is a public-private partnership between the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority (MCCA) and companies located in the Seaport to operate ferry service between Lovejoy Wharf at North Station and Fan Pier. Ferry service began in January for corporate employees and opened to the general public in February. The MCCA and their collaborators seek to address access to the Seaport, where another 17 million square feet of development is planned over the next 20 years. In 2017, the city released Go Boston 2030, which projected at least 13,000 new jobs, approximately nine million square feet of new commercial space, and redevelopment of existing buildings, mainly in the Seaport district.

The MCCA’s Better Government Competition entry highlighted the enormous success of the program, connecting  Boston’s busiest transit hub with one of its fastest growing business centers. By taking individual company shuttles off the road, the service reduces traffic congestion and mitigates the impact of air pollution.

Ferry service from North Station to the Seaport District is a worthy investment, and one that will continue to pay dividends in the years to come. That’s why this proposal was named a finalist in Pioneer’s 2019 Better Government Competition.

To find out more about this proposal and other innovations, join Pioneer at its Better Government Competition Awards Gala on Monday, September 16th. Stay tuned for an announcement about the top-prize winner and four runners-up!

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