New tourism shuttle unveiled

NEW BEDFORD — In a twist on a typical ribbon-cutting ceremony, Mayor Jon Mitchell on Thursday drove the first NB Line shuttle through a large banner held by two UMass Dartmouth students to mark the launch of the service.
Cara Pearson and Alyssa Rutkowski, students in the College of Visual and Performing Arts, were part of a team with Andrew Cefalu and Mike Silvia, who worked on the shuttle’s visual and graphic design components. The project was part of the College of Visual and Performing Arts’ designing for environment and community classes taught by professor David Chapman.
The shuttle service is a joint venture of the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park, Southeastern Regional Transit Authority and the city of New Bedford. It will bring tourists to the city’s historical and recreational areas, including downtown, Buttonwood Park and Fort Taber.
After the “ribbon cutting,” guests assembled under a tent in the courtyard of the park office and heard from National Park Superintendent Jennifer Nersesian, Southeastern Regional Transit Authority Administrator Erik B. Rousseau and the mayor.
“We’re looking at a new era in New Bedford,” said Nersesian. “We’re connecting with our future.”
She said the shuttle took four years to come to fruition and represents a true partnership between the city, SRTA and National Park Service.
Rousseau described the project as a “unique transportation opportunity” for SRTA and said he hopes it will serve as a model for future partnerships with other communities and organizations.
Mitchell said the NB Line should make visitors’ experiences more fulfilling and also easier since it will connect them with downtown and more remote points of interest. He said he also hopes the NB Line will promote the city even more as a hub for history, culture and recreation.
“We hope … we’ll have more people spreading the word about New Bedford and what a tourist destination it is,” he said.
“It’s a place where you can spend a whole day, not just breeze through. There’s a lot to be seen here.”
For his part, Chapman said “this is probably one of the most gratifying classes I have ever taught,” citing his students’ success.
Pearson and her teammates are proud of what they accomplished. “When I (first) saw the bus, my heart was stopping then beating … I was so excited,” she said.
Another bonus: As a result of her leadership with her team, Pearson has acquired an internship at the National Historical Park.
The NB Line will run from now to Labor Day between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., seven days a week. From Sept. 4 through Columbus Day, it will operate weekends only. The downtown route, connecting the waterfront to visitor destinations in the downtown area, runs every 20 minutes, while the Buttonwood and Fort Taber routes run every 70 minutes and connect destinations such as Buttonwood Park Zoo, Fort Taber Park, antique shops and beaches to downtown.
Original Title: New Bedford line shuttle unveiled
July 06, 2012 12:00 AM
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