The Codcast: Making getting to Logan easier

Massport is developing a number of initiatives to improve the experience of getting to and from Logan International Airport while simultaneously reducing congestion.

The authority’s focus on congestion is understandable. At most airports, as many as a third of the passengers fly in, transfer to another plane, and fly out. At Logan, the 40 million passengers tend to start or end their trips there, meaning nearly all of them use ground transportation, adding to congestion.

Passengers already make greater use of high occupancy vehicles to get to Logan than they do at any other airport in the country. But Massport officials think they can attract more passengers to the Logan Express buses that depart from Braintree, Framingham, Woburn, and Peabody by allowing them to check their bags before boarding the vehicles.

Tom Glynn, the CEO of Massport, told the TransitMatters Codcast that remote baggage check-in will allow passengers to avoid the hassle of dealing with bags at the airport and should increase ridership. “That would have a big positive impact,” he said, noting that some have suggested remote baggage check-in could also be tried at North and South stations.

Massport is also providing 16 Silver Line buses to the T to improve service to the airport and developing designs for vehicles – a monorail is a possibility — that could whisk passengers from the Blue Line stop at Logan to the airline and rental car terminals. The goal is to get people out of airport buses that are increasingly caught in congestion on roads leading to the terminals.

Logan is also looking at changing the road design between the airport’s two busiest terminals, B and C. The same lane handles vehicles leaving B and arriving at C, which can cause backups.

Glynn, who is leaving Massport November 16, was joined by John Pranckevicius, the chief financial officer who will step in as the interim replacement and is also a candidate for the CEO job. Here’s what else they had to say:

Conley container terminal – Glynn said the facility is a thriving niche business serving eastern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire. Container traffic has grown 30 percent in the last five years, and to keep pace with the industry’s shift toward bigger and bigger vessels Massport is dredging the harbor, expanding the facility, and installing new, larger cranes.

Fish pier – Proximity to the airport is the key to success for many of Boston’s seafood processors. Glynn said North Coast Seafoods processes 100,000 pounds of fish in an eight-hour shift, and much of the catch isn’t local. The fish comes in by air to Logan and is shipped out by air to customers across the world. “You can go to a restaurant in California and order salmon and it will have come from South Boston,” Glynn said.

Big infrastructure projects – Glynn used to run the MBTA, and several times he questioned whether passenger traffic would warrant T expansions favored by his TransitMatters hosts Josh Fairchild and Jim Aloisi. His biggest concern, however, was the public’s appetite for such projects. He recalled important  projects from the past – extending the Red Line to Alewife, relocating the Orange Line, and putting the Green Line at North Station underground – that today might meet a lot of resistance. “I don’t know if you can do those today because there’s so much concern that people have about their normal existence that they’re very resistant to big infrastructure projects,” he said. “I think it’s getting harder to do big infrastructure projects.”

Ride-hailing apps – In a separate interview with CommonWealth, Glynn said public officials should put their heads together to figure out the best way to address the congestion caused by transportation network companies such as Uber and Lyft. “The growth of the TNCs has contributed significantly to congestion in the city and at the airport,” he said.



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