‘We’re ready to go’: New Bedford airport gears up for next big thing

After an Elite Airlines flight landed at New Bedford Regional Airport last winter, three administrators walked onto the runway with umbrellas.

As passengers exited the plane, Airport Director Scot Servis, Assistant Director Michael Crane and Airport Commission Chairman Paul Barton shielded them from the rain.

“We’re not a big airport like T.F. Green or Logan. We can’t offer things they offer. But we can offer things that they can’t offer,” Barton said. “We can offer these little things.”

Barton hopes little things like $5 parking per day, quick processing through security and the aforementioned plane to terminal service add up to attract not only passengers but airlines.

Elite Airlines didn’t extend service beyond its initial six-week test flight from December through January, but Barton is hopeful Elite will return in the fall. The airline would join Island Shuttle, which will rival Cape Air in small flights to Cape and the Island. Barton said service for Island Shuttle will begin this summer.

He was also optimistic about a third airline that could provide round trips to JFK Airport in New York in 2019. While Barton chose not to name the airline, he said it is affiliated with a larger airline, which would allow passengers an array of options through New Bedford.

“You could actually buy a ticket in New Bedford and end up in California,” Barton said.

The airport launched a new website (flyewb.com) as another way to facilitate passengers’ experience, providing flight updates and parking and rental information among other things.

He was also optimistic about a third airline that could provide round trips to JFK Airport in New York in 2019. While Barton chose not to name the airline, he said it is affiliated with a larger airline, which would allow passengers an array of options through New Bedford.

“You could actually buy a ticket in New Bedford and end up in California,” Barton said.

The airport launched a new website (flyewb.com) as another way to facilitate passengers’ experience, providing flight updates and parking and rental information among other things.

“If New Bedford is dreaming up service, there’s other airports dreaming about it too,” Servis said. “I’m sure we’re not the only ones knocking on the doors. And in the end, it depends on which airport could provide the best deal for the airline and where they see the most passengers coming out of.”

Whichever airline lands in New Bedford it will be on new runways.

Runway 5-23 was repaired about three years ago and crews began tearing up 14-32 three weeks ago.

“There’s so much potential sitting on the plate right now,” Barton said. “Once this is done, we’re going to have two new runways. We have a lot interest, believe me, from the public. We’re ready to go.”

The work will cut the runway’s width in half from 150 to 75 feet. A lack of funding didn’t allow for the runway to be renovated at its original width, however, Servis said the shrinkage hasn’t turned off airlines.

The neighbors living around the airport may have noticed less traffic around the area compared to the last runway repair. Since that time, the airport installed a maintenance road.

“It was a big lesson learned from the 5-23 project,” Servis said. “Hauling all these trucks and all this equipment with the asphalt back and forth through the neighborhood drove the neighbors crazy.”

Follow Michael Bonner on Twitter @MikeBBonnerSCT.

Original story here.

Sound off now on downtown New Bedford parking

SouthCoast Today: Our View
Posted Mar 1, 2018 at 8:20 PM

Find the survey at newbedford-ma.gov/ParkingSurvey.

Everyone has a gripe about parking.

There’s not enough of it. The meters run out too quickly and the fines are too high. Parking officers are mean. The garages are too far from my workplace. And on and on and on.

If you’ve been aching to sound off about parking issues in downtown New Bedford, now is the time to do it.

State and city planners want to hear your concerns, your user experiences and yes, your complaints. Think of it like this: If you don’t take advantage of the opportunity now, you might lose the high ground when you feel like complaining later.

The first way to make your thoughts known is by completing a survey. It’s sitting online right now, waiting to be filled out by visitors, workers, residents, business owners, students and anyone else with a reason to park, drive or do business in downtown New Bedford. Responses will be collected for three to four weeks.

The survey shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes to complete, and it’s filled with questions that get to the heart of the downtown parking issues:

• How long does it take you to find a parking space?

• Where do you park most frequently?

• Have you ever left downtown because you were unable to find parking?

• And this one — which might be everybody’s favorite: What else would you like to tell us about parking downtown?

But the survey is only one part of a comprehensive study. The second way to be heard is during two public workshops next Tuesday (March 6). The first is from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in a roving tent downtown. The second runs from 5-7:30 p.m. in the conference room of UMass Dartmouth’s Star Store campus at 715 Purchase St. in New Bedford.

Jim McKeag, a fellow with MassDevelopment’s Transformative Development Initiative, says the idea is to look at parking issues from different viewpoints and find smart solutions.

McKeag and others have heard concerns about parking from multiple sources in New Bedford — business owners, customers, public officials and more. And with the understanding that you can’t take a serious look at a problem in one small area unless you put it into the larger context, New Bedford’s parking study will gather information on both the city’s waterfront and its downtown area.

MassDevelopment, which manages State Pier; the Harbor Development Commission, which oversees harbor facilities; and the city are sharing the $75,000 price tag. Results will be collected and analyzed alongside additional research by Stantec Consulting Services.

The study area will include all of the downtown area, bounded by Kempton Street to the north, Walnut Street to the south, County Street to the west, and Route 18 to the east — plus the school administration building on County Street. Waterfront areas include the Whale’s Tooth parking lot, Pier 3, State Pier, Steamship Pier, Homer’s Wharf, Leonard’s Wharf, and available space at the Eversource site.

So what happens after the info is collected? Well, we’ve been assured that it’s not simply to write a report and file it away in some three-ring binder.

McKeag says the survey dives deep into parking behavior — how people use the existing parking and why they park in one place instead of another. So the responses might lead to sensible adjustments that bring big results.

The city might need different regulations for different users. Or officials might want to change the time limits on some meters. Maybe the price could be adjusted between parking garages and downtown meters. And maybe there simply needs to be more permanent spaces.

Planners intend to share their results with the public when Stantec completes its research.

It all sounds good to us, especially with the growing links between downtown and the city’s working waterfront — ferry service, restaurants, the hotel and a growing tourism industry.

We encourage everyone with an interest in parking to fill out the survey and attend Tuesday’s meeting. The effort could bring meaningful results. Plus, you’ll get the chance to gripe about parking with someone who is actually listening.

Original story here.