Port of New Bedford

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State Pier

In the heart of the working waterfront

State Pier sits at the bottom of Union Street in New Bedford and serves as one of the central hubs for cargo and passenger operations. (Click here for the location of State Pier.) The facility is a bulkheaded wharf of steel and stone construction with timber pile supported piers on the North, South, and East Apron.

State Pier is owned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). Under Memorandums of Understanding with DCR, the HDC manages various terminal operations and activities on State Pier, including the Ferry Terminal; cruise berthing; and events such as the Commercial Marine Expo.

Free passenger ferry shuttle service is provided between State Pier and the Whales Tooth Parking Lot. The HDC has berthing agreements with ferry and cruise operators for use of the facility for these operations. The HDC signs agreements with event owners to use State Pier for special events.

Passenger Ferry Terminal on State Pier

The HDC leases part of the north side of State Pier from the DCR, which now houses the New Bedford Passenger Ferry Terminal. The facility’s Ro-Ro ramp is 100 feet long and 18 feet wide and will hold up to 200 tons.

Currently, the Passenger Ferry Terminal is used by two ferry companies:

The 8,500-square foot passenger ferry terminal is located within the State Pier building to support passenger ferry services and features a climate-controlled waiting area, ticketing facilities, baggage area, restrooms, and visitor information kiosk as well as coffee and retail shops.

Ferry parking is available at the nearby Whale's Tooth Parking Lot (located near Routes 6 and 18), as described further below. The HDC operates a free shuttle service to transport ferry passengers from the lot to the terminal at State Pier. The facility complies with all applicable Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements.

The Facilities Manager is responsible for supervising bus/trolley drivers, cashiers, and parking attendants associated with state pier users under contract with the HDC. The Facilities Manager is also responsible for stocking supplies and ensuring facility cleanliness. Cleaning service has been contracted to Work Inc., a nonprofit that supports disabled workers. Marine Superintendents and their staff are tasked with repair and maintenance as required under the MOU with DCR. 

The Ferry Terminal includes a tenant, Celtic Coffee House, who provides food and refreshments to facility customers. The HDC is in contract with this tenant on a commission basis. Cowell's Art Gallery also runs a seasonal gift shop at the Ferry Terminal.

Passenger Ferry Shuttle Services and Whale’s Tooth Parking Lot

The Facilities Manager oversees and operates the Whales Tooth Parking Lot, which is located approximately 850 yards north of the State Pier and provides 650 parking spaces to support ferry passenger needs as well as special event activities. Refer to Figure 1.1 for the location of the Whale’s Tooth Parking Lot. Shuttle bus service that transports ferry passengers from the parking lot to the Ferry Terminal is offered.

Whale’s Tooth Parking Lot employees include two full-time bus drivers. In the busy summer season (April to the end of September when the Martha’s Vineyard ferry runs), employee support is expanded to include an additional bus driver, a trolley driver, a cashier and parking attendants. HDC Commissioners decide, in concert with recommendations from SeaStreak, on winter ferry service.

Cruise Ship Berthing on State Pier

The HDC arranges and manages contracts with multiple cruise ship lines to use berthing facilities at State Pier. Fees generated from the cruise ports of call are used to subsidize the costs of trolley service and International Longshoremen Association (ILA) that is commissioned by the HDC to tie the lines for cruise vessels. The ‘Facility/Harbor Operations’ arm of HDC (specifically the Facilities Manager with support from the state-hired Pier Manager) is responsible for all shore-side and terminal logistics associated with cruise ship visits, including site cleanliness/trash removal, water, sewer, and staffing trolley operations. Night security staffed by the Facilities Manager patrols State Pier at night for the purpose of public safety.

The Facilities Manager also coordinates/provides trolley service to transport cruise visitors on excursions to the various City destinations. The New Bedford Economic Development Council markets these shore-side excursions along with the HDC Marketing, Retail and Procurement Team. Cruise passengers are provided with welcome brochure that includes a downtown map, coupon booklet and other promotional materials for New Bedford businesses and attractions.

State Pier Events and Other Operations Support

During the off-season for import/export trade, the HDC markets the State Pier Facility for major events (through MOUs with DCR). The HDC is in contract for the Commercial Marine Expo that draws over 3,000 people to the City.

Several other operations work out of State Pier under the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts including ferry service, excursion service and import/export trade. Through a collaborative partnership with the DCR, the HDC provides both resource-based support and marketing support to sustain and expand these services.

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