Climate Change & Environmental Planning

Waterfront Transportation

With its long history of shipbuilding and ocean trade, Boston has always been a city oriented towards its waterfront. Today, Boston and its neighboring municipalities look towards the waterfront again as a logical place to expand transportation options. Ferries and water taxis offer both commuters and visitors multiple routes across the harbor, reducing reliance private automobiles and congestion in bridges and tunnels. Water transportation hubs also bring new activity to the waterfront, supporting Boston's goal to enliven the City's shoreline. 

The BPDA’s Passenger Water Transportation Plan for Boston Inner Harbor is intended to play a pivotal role in the next phase of Boston's harbor revitalization. To accommodate anticipated growth in ferry travel over the next ten years, the Plan focuses on expanding the capacity and quality of Boston’s water transportation terminals and associated intermodal connections. Four Inner Harbor districts are analyzed in the Plan: Downtown, South Boston, Charlestown and East Boston. The Plan describes how and where to provide appropriate terminal and boating facilities to encourage the full growth of the ferry industry in response to the increasing demand for new routes and services. The Plan was released in January 2000 and was funded in part by a grant from the Commonwealth’s Executive Office of Transportation and Construction (EOTC).

For more information, please contact Richard McGuinness, Deputy Director for Climate Change & Environmental Planning.

In February 2020, Mayor Walsh and the BPDA in collaboration with Massport and MassDOT announced a joint effort to build a new ferry dock at Lewis Mall in East Boston. The dock responds to the feedback received from community members through the BPDA’s PLAN: East Boston community process and has been identified in Imagine Boston 2030, Go Boston 2030 and Boston Harbor Now’s Business Plan for New Water Transportation as a priority for the residents of East Boston.

Seaplane Pilot Program at Boston Waterboat Marina

The BPDA Board voted on February 13, 2020 to amend the Agency’s license agreement with Boston Waterboat Marina (BWM) to allow for short-term docking, passenger loading and disembarking of seaplanes for a one-year trial period, under the following terms and conditions, required by the BPDA and based on community and stakeholder feedback:

Terms and Conditions

  • Seaplane operations will be for a one-year trial period, limited to 4 scheduled daily flights.
  • Cape Air will be the sole service provider during the one-year trial period.
  • Cape Air and BWM will meet on a monthly basis with abutting stakeholders, ferry operators to discuss operational issues and logistics.
  • No overnight docking of seaplanes, no on-site fueling of seaplanes.
  • Any land based signage must be reviewed by BPDA Urban Design staff.
  • Flight schedules shall be subordinate to existing waterborne ferry scheduled uses.
  • Planes will be required to yield the right of way to ferry traffic to ensure no interruption or delay in ferry service.

Flights will land and take off from the water adjacent to Logan Airport.

Regulatory approval - Cape Air has received all required approval from the United States Coast Guard and Federal Aviation Authority to permit the airline to have scheduled seaplane service in Boston Harbor. BWM and Cape Air will seek any necessary permits to allow seaplane usage of the docks.

Flight logistics - Cape Air intends to offer four round trip flights daily between Boston and New York City. While the flights will land and take off from the water adjacent to Logan Airport, Cape Air requires the use of a land based station to allow for the loading and unloading of passengers. Boston Waterboat Marina (BWM) currently uses approximately 250 square feet of land and approximately 96,625 square feet of water sheet on the northside of Long Wharf.

Community engagement - Per the BPDA’s recommendation, Cape Air has conducted a community process with residents and stakeholders prior to the Board’s vote. The Agency will continue to review community feedback during and after Cape Air’s one-year pilot.

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