In October, Boston’s Logan Airport started phasing in its long-anticipated pickup and fee changes for app-hail car services such as Uber and Lyft.
The move was designed in part to ease congestion at New England’s busiest transportation hub and its surrounding East Boston environs. That congestion is due to the rise in app-hail services but also to the simple rise in the airport’s popularity with carriers and passengers.
Logan’s airline passenger volume has increased by 10 million—or more than 30 percent—in just the past five years; and it’s expected to top 47.6 million annually by 2024, which would represent a 17 percent increase over 2018.
It’s unclear, however, if the changes re: Uber and Lyft—the most significant of which involves eventually moving most daytime app-hail pickups and drop-offs to a Central Garage location—will actually do much to mitigate, much less reduce, congestion. People like the convenience of the ride even if the airport bit might become more of a hassle.
The move then by Logan operator Massport just underscores the real congestion challenge facing the airport: It’s not drop-off locations or pickup points; it’s too many cars. Here’s how to make the airport run without one.
Silver and Blue save green
Few major U.S. airports have mass transit options as convenient as those at Logan. Both the Blue and the Silver lines—each part of the mass transit system known as the T—service Logan Airport as do ferries and buses, some run by the T and some run by the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport), the airport’s owner and operator.
The Silver Line SL1 route bus stops at each terminal. Normal T fares apply as far as using it to get to Logan, but it is free—free—from the airport to Boston’s South Station, which in turn entitles a Silver Line rider to a free transfer to the T’s Red Line. The Red Line can carry you from North Cambridge to Quincy, including through downtown Boston.
The Silver Line buses run generally every eight to 10 minutes from downstairs locations at each terminal; and the line itself runs from around 5:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. every day.
The Blue Line stops at—appropriately enough—Airport Station. There are free Massport shuttle buses from there to each terminal. To get from the terminals to the station, take the free Massport shuttles marked routes 22, 33, and 55 to “MBTA Blue Line.”
Riders can buy T tickets for the Blue Line—which is not free into Boston—at Airport Station. The Blue Line runs from around 6 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. every day. Pro tip: It connects with the Orange Line at State Street in downtown Boston.
Massport runs what it calls Logan Express service from stops in Boston’s Back Bay as well as from the municipalities of Braintree, Framingham, Woburn, and Peabody. These rides typically take from 35 to 45 minutes, depending on the departure point. They start early too—some depart for Logan and vice versa well before dawn—and run late every day.
The fares vary. From Back Bay Station, for instance, Logan Express will cost $3. And it’s free for the reverse—Logan to Back Bay Station. For the farther-out stops, fares are a lot more—$12 for an adult one way from Braintree, Framingham, Woburn, and Peabody. Children under 17, though, ride free on all Logan Express buses when traveling with their families.
Logan Express does not take reservations. It’s first come, first served. But there is daily parking near the farther-out stops: $7 a day, which is practically a steal for the Boston region.
A final—and very important—note: Logan Express riders coming from Back Bay Station are entitled to an orange ticket that in turn entitles them to use an expedited security line at Logan. It was a first-of-its-kind incentive in the nation to get people to take mass transit to the airport, and it’s worked swimmingly.
The MBTA runs ferries every weekday to and from Logan’s dock. From the dock, riders can take a free shuttle bus (the 66) to all terminals. The ferries originate from Long Wharf North on the Boston waterfront and from the town of Hull.
Fares start at $3.70 one way for adults and can be purchased in advance. Pro tip: The Long Wharf North stop is in easy walking distance of the Blue Line’s Aquarium stop, which can then whisk riders to Airport Station.
Also, MBTA ferry riders can take advantage of the same orange-ticket incentive that Logan Express riders from Back Bay Station can use to skip the longer security lines.