Project Overview

Over the past three decades, more than $25 billion in public funds were used to clean up the harbor, reroute the Central Artery and create the Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park. Those public investments have been more than matched in historic rates of private development—and rush hour traffic jams–along the waterfront.

Boston Harbor Now is managing a two-part project — the Comprehensive Boston Harbor Water Transportation Study and Business Plans and the Water Transportation Strategy for the Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park — to study expanded water transportation in greater Boston. After a competitive RFP process, Steer Davies Gleave in partnership with KPFF were selected to lead the study

The nine-month study and planning process will identify sites for new and expanded ferry service by looking at locations within the Inner Harbor, along the North and South Shores, and to the Harbor Islands. Ferry dock sites and potential routes will be analyzed by modelling potential demand, operating costs, and capital costs.The study will also include best practices for incorporating alternative clean fuel vessels and other environmentally beneficial technologies into water transportation services, and will model how water transportation can reduce CO2 and particulate emissions resulting from riders shifting to ferries and reduce congestion on other regional transportation networks.

The funding for this work comes from a diversity of stakeholders including MassDOT, Massport, the National Park Service, the Seaport Economic Council of the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, and the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority as well as the Barr Foundation, the Cabot Family Charitable Trust, and the developers of Clippership Wharf and the Envoy Hotel.

Potential sites for new ferry service and for gateways to the Harbor Islands include the Inner Harbor as well as the Mystic River and Chelsea Creek, the Outer Harbor from Scituate to Salem. New services around Massachusetts Bay as far from Downtown as Gloucester, Plymouth, and Provincetown are also possibilities.

Over the course of the study, while developing site profiles and possible routes, the team will meet with key stakeholders to receive input from community leaders, conduct a public survey, and ensure that widespread outreach involves waterfront communities and neighborhoods around the region.

To get involved in this process, please contact Alice Brown at

Draft Reports

These are interim reports for the public to review.

Feedback from the Workshops

Existing Conditions

Best Practices (Comprehensive Study)

Best Practices (Park Strategy)

You can also learn more about the MBTA’s ferry service