The Alford Street Bridge between Charlestown and Everett will probably be clogged with cars when Encore Boston Harbor at last opens in June. So you might be better off going under it, along the Mystic River on one of the casino’s new ferries.
Encore operator Wynn Resorts unveiled details this week of its long-awaited ferry service, promised years ago as a condition for receiving its casino license, that will launch with the Everett resort’s June opening.
The ferries will run daily every 20 to 30 minutes, shuttling passengers between the resort, the World Trade Center in the Seaport District, and Long Wharf near the New England Aquarium. The service will run year-round, seven days a week, from 7 a.m. to midnight, and trips will take about 20 minutes from downtown to the foot of the hulking, multibillion-dollar facility.
Jim Folk, Encore’s executive director of transportation, said that while the service is largely meant to get people to and from the casino site, the public is also welcome to use it to commute or travel.
“We’re hoping people take advantage of this water transportation and use it in many different ways,” Folk said. Water transportation, he added, “is very underutilized in Boston. We’re hoping our success will help branch out elsewhere.”
Fares are $7 to and from the casino, and $5 between the Seaport and Financial District. For now, at least, riders will need to pay for each trip; there’s no immediate plan to offer some sort of commuter pass.
The four boats are 40 feet long and will hold about 35 passengers, with plush seating, heating, and air conditioning. They’re small enough to fit under the Alford Street drawbridge without requiring it to open and close every passage.
The ferries will be operated by Bay State Cruises and are made by Boston Boat Works of Charlestown. The company builds about 35 boats a year, but founder Scott Smith said it’s the first time it’s made one for passenger transit. He hopes it won’t be the last.
“This was a big, big step for our organization,” Smith said.
Encore’s opening will also introduce several other transportation initiatives, including free shuttles from the Orange Line stations at Malden Center and Wellington that will run every 10 to 20 minutes. Another free shuttle service also available to the public will run 24 hours a day through Everett, connecting with the Silver Line branch in Chelsea.
And patrons can pay $7 to catch a bus from remote locations, including Milford, Rockland, and Londonderry, N.H.
Wynn is also paying for the design and permitting of a footbridge across the Mystic River to the Orange Line’s Assembly Square Station, though the company has not committed to paying for its construction.
Folk said Wynn may also add ferry routes and has been in touch with other companies interested in offering water service between the casino and Logan International Airport.
The massive traffic influx expected from the casino was one of the main concerns with the casino back when it first sought its license in 2014, prompting lawsuits from the cities of Boston and Somerville. Eventually, officials launched a new working group to develop transportation improvements in the area, which includes long-term initiatives such as extending the Silver Line toward Everett.
In the meantime, Wynn officials hope at least some of their patrons choose the new transit options.
“We are discouraging people from driving and encouraging them to take these other means of transportation,” Folk said.
Still, he acknowledged the cars will be rolling in. The casino will have some 3,000 parking spots — and they’re not free; $22 for six hours or less, and $42 for six to 24 hours. Prices will be higher for valet parking, though lower at a remote parking lot in a different part of Everett.