BOSTON (CBS) – Boston got a look at what the waterfront traffic will be like in 10 years last Friday and it wasn’t a pretty sight.
A combination of the inaugural Norwegian Cruise Line departure from Black Falcon Cruise Terminal, Simmons College Graduation at The Blue Hills Bank Pavilion and normal fish processing truck traffic, brought all vehicles to a halt at noon. This was the case even though there was a cop on every corner to try and direct traffic.
There were only two passengers on a MBTA bus that took almost 20 minutes to get from the cruise terminal to The World Trade Center stop, a trip of less than a mile. With new housing and business development on the waterfront expected to double in the next decade, steps need to be taken now to limit traffic.
While all of this activity was taking place, another 5,000 people were at The Boston Convention & Exhibition Center at the AARP Life at 50 Expo.
Estimates are that there may have been as many as 11,000 more people than usual moving through the Seaport area at noon on May 9.
Massport held its first cruise celebration ever for the start of the 2014 cruise season with a speaking program under a tent next to the docked NCL ship. Guest speakers included Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Sen. Tom McGee. Also attending was a group of students from the Condon Elementary School in nearby South Boston who boarded the ship for lunch with the VIP’s.
NCL Executive Vice President Andy Stuart came up from headquarters in Miami to promote the cruise business in Boston and New England.
“It is an extremely important market for NCL and we have increased capacity with larger ships in Boston. We expect to carry over 60,000 passengers this season to Bermuda,” said Stuart.
One of the major advantages of cruises departing from Boston is the number of people living within an hour’s drive that do not have to fly to their departure point.
The growth of cruise passengers at Black Falcon Cruise Terminal is impressive. In 2006, the figure was about 210,000. This year the passenger count will end up being close to 400,000.
NCL will have 22 weekly departures to Bermuda through October 31 and expects to carry over 60,000 passengers on this route from Boston.
It was about 20 years ago that Massport started to work with the waterfront unions to get more competitive work rules to handle larger ships.
Massport is also leading an effort to obtain more federal money to begin dredging Boston Harbor to allow larger container ships to use its cargo facilities.
A half an hour prior to the Massport event, a passenger on the arriving NCL ship “The Dawn” suffered a heart attack bringing a number of first response vehicles to the cruise terminal as the Tampa passengers departed.
The ship left full Friday afternoon after the Seaport District was full of vehicles. Groups like Massport, The Boston Harbor Association and local businesses are meeting regularly to discuss traffic problems.
All Things Travel Reports with Bob Weiss can be heard on WBZ News Radio 1030.