Massport CEO Thomas Glynn is leaving his job after six years of managing what is one of the most important drivers of the economy in Boston and New England. The Massachusetts Port Authority owns and operates three airports — Logan, Hanscom and Worcester — and three marine terminals in the Port of Boston, along with owning much of the Boston Harbor waterfront. And it pays for itself, generating more than $600 million annually. Glynn is leaving the position, and he spoke with WGBH Radio's Bob Seay as he prepared to step down. The following transcript has been edited for clarity.

Bob Seay: You have been here for the past six years, a time of tremendous growth, both here at Logan Airport and along the waterfront in Boston Harbor. As you look back on those six years, what are some of the things that you look back on with some sense of accomplishment?

Thomas Glynn: We're very proud of the international flight growth in some of the new markets in China and South America and the Middle East. I think a revitalization of the Worcester Airport is a very big deal to people in central Mass, and then the revitalization of the working port has been another thing that I think a lot of folks appreciate what we've been able to do in working with them.

Seay: Are there things you wish you could have accomplished?

Glynn: I think that all of us in transportation are challenged by the congestion that we face on our roads. You know, getting to the airport, leaving the airport, really, all around the city. I do think that the economic strength of this economy is great, but it is having the side effect that it creates congestion issues that everybody in transportation is working together to try to figure out.

Seay: What is Massport doing in that regard? Because you are increasing passengers here. There's a lot more people trying to get back and forth to the airport and our listeners might say, 'I have a hard enough time right now.' What does the future look like?

Glynn: So really three things. One thing we've done is we've committed through the state environmental process to increase the amount of high-occupancy vehicle access to the airport. So we have Logan Express, which we've committed to expanding. We have the private bus companies, which were working closely with. We have about 30 percent of the passengers come on an HOV option. So that's the highest in the country. But that needs to grow. Second, we're working on automatic people mover to move people around the airport. We took a first step when we eliminated each rental car company having its own fleet of shuttle buses. So it went from 130 an hour to 30 an hour. That's good, but we'd like to take the next step and an automated people mover would really make a difference in airport congestion. And then the third thing is we're working with the other transportation agencies to try to come up with you know long-term solutions.

Seay: Let me ask about Logan itself. Is it constrained by its location to any future expansion?

Glynn: Well sure. It's in a residential neighborhood. People in East Boston have been very patient over the years to work with Massport to make sure that we protect the residential neighborhood, also Winthrop, also South Boston. We're never going to grow, so we have to make work with what we have. We have one of the smallest airport footprints in the country. Dallas Fort Worth Airport is the same size as Manhattan. So that tells you something about how small the parcel that we're working with is. But yeah, there's never been a discussion about expanding, and it wouldn't be the right thing to do.

Seay: Would that mean we'd see any kind of aviation expansion outside Boston, say Hanscom? You know, there already is in Manchester and Providence.

Glynn: Right. So we've tried to be part of a regional system. Obviously we've invested a lot of money in the Worcester Airport as our number one priority. We hope that Providence and Manchester are successful. We've also, you know, the state 25 years ago got active on the high speed rail to New York, and now more people take the train to New York than than fly. So that's been another success. And we don't foresee any kind of a satellite airport. There was, 25 years ago, some discussion about Hanscom, that really didn't go very far. Sometimes folks have focused on Pease, but, in the end of the day, we benefit from the fact that at our peak we had about 1,500 flights a day, and now we have maybe 1300. So we still have some room in terms of the number of flights, because in the old days when we had 1,500 flights, the flights were only half full. Now they're 80 percent full, so we can actually carry more people on fewer flights. So we think we still have some some room to grow.

Seay: Environmentally, concern about climate change, sea level rise because you're right out here in the middle of the harbor?

Glynn: We've done a lot of work on that since the hurricane in 2012, Hurricane Sandy. We saw what happened in New York. We've done a lot of work to protect critical infrastructure. I think some folks are hopeful that maybe there'll be a barrier built some day in the harbor. I don't know. That seems kind of like a big undertaking. But we want to protect critical infrastructure at the airport but also in South Boston because actually South Boston has as many risks as East Boston in terms of sea level rise. And we obviously have properties, you know, in both locations.

Seay: Also, environmentally your efforts to reduce your carbon footprint? There's a lot of energy consumed here at the airport.

Glynn: Right. So one of the things we also committed to as part of the environmental process was, we have a lot of [what's] called ground service equipment — the tugs that pull the airplanes, or the carts that load the luggage, unload the luggage so they generate a lot of those pieces of equipment are 20, 25, 30 years old, diesel. So we have a program in place now with the airlines to change all of those out. That'll make a huge difference. It's not as visible as some other things we've done. You know like solar panels or the buses that we have. But it's going to make a big impact on the quality of the environment.

Seay: And also moving forward here at the airport, do you see more mass transit links in the future?

Glynn: We rely on the Blue line and the Silver Line for a healthy airport. And I think that with the Silver Line, we paid for — this long before my time — eight of the 32 coaches. And as part of the environmental permitting process, we agreed to double that. So we need a very successful, robust Silver Line. So we said we'd pay for 16 new coaches, as the T gets ready to trade in the ones they have. So yeah, we rely on a strong team.

Seay: You mentioned the growth here at the airport, the strong demand for people to come here. What is it that's driving it in terms of Boston?

Glynn: I think it's the fact that we have a diversified economy. We have the universities, we have the hospitals, we have tourism, we have finance, we have manufacturing, we have technology. So I think that attracts people who want to visit here but also who want to live here. And I think that, you know, we do an okay job running the airport, so I think that you know encourages people that, you know, I've seen articles from people relocating to Boston referencing the airport as one of the reasons why they relocated. So I think immodestly that's another kind of small factor but still it's worth a mention.

Seay: Let's turn to the waterfront now, which years ago was pretty much ignored as a blighted industrial area. What happened?

Glynn: Ned Johnson and Fidelity deserves a tremendous amount of credit for the long-term lease for the World Trade Center, building the Seaport Hotel, building the two Fidelity office buildings. They were really the pioneers, and then, Congressman Moakley with the courthouse and the Silver Line stepped in working with Mayor Menino. Then they did the Convention Center. So a lot of public investment went into the Seaport to make it interesting for the private sector to then come in and start the development that they have been pursuing. So it's a good story of public-private partnerships. I think it's growing a lot faster than anybody anticipated. And so that does present some challenges. But you know, I think it's a good case study of how to do things with big public infrastructure that really triggers job growth.

Seay: Also, I guess we can't leave out the cleanup of Boston Harbor.

Glynn: So yeah. No absolutely. That probably should have been you know number two on the list after — well, I think the Fidelity Investment was pretty significant — but cleaning up the harbor, yes, I agree with that. That was well done, you know, on time, on budget and made a huge difference for everybody all over Eastern Mass.

Seay: Looking forward, in terms of the harbor. One of the challenges that you mentioned was guaranteeing public access to this resource, because a lot of people see all these private development and there is kind of a clamor to make sure the public is not forgotten.

Glynn: So you know, I think on the East Boston side, there's a lot more public access because of Massport properties. We have Piers Park 1, we're in the process of doing Piers Park 2. The development that's been done on the East Boston side has tried to protect access to the harbor. I think the HarborWalk on the South Boston side is very significant but it is true that because of the geography over there and the way the parcels lay themselves out, there isn't quite as much access as maybe we would like to see, given our values in Boston. But, it's not zero either. So you know, I think, it is what it is. But I think going forward, the city and the state and Massport want to work together to try to protect what's what's left and make sure that's something that the public feels provides them some access.

Seay: Last year I was out on the harbor observing the beginning of this dredging project. And I think that signals a huge change in what's to come.

Glynn: The dredging project is a good reminder that we have a working port with 7,000 blue collar jobs, and we need to protect those assets, which a lot of cities would be happy to have. So the dredging project will allow us to stay in the game as the container ships get bigger and bigger because of the Panama Canal getting bigger. And it's about a $350 million project, as I think you reported, and it's about a three-year effort. So it started in July in the active phase, what you participated in was kind of the planning phase back in the fall. And we think three years from now it'll be completed.

Seay: What about cruise ships, are we going to see more of them?

Glynn: We've seen a big increase, again, because Boston is such an interesting destination for tourists. So in the summer of '16 we had 115 ships, and in the summer of '17 we had 151. So a 30 percent increase in one year. So we're trying to work with other public officials to try to upgrade the cruise terminal, which is an old Army warehouse built 100 years ago. So we've invested some money in it to improve it. But if were going to have two and three ships at a time, and we're going to have a longer season, we have to do something about heating, and you know, a few basic things like that. But it's great to see the tourism industry embrace the Boston that we all know and love.

Seay: What do you see in terms of Massport's future?

Glynn: I inherited a great team. I'm hopefully leaving a great team. So I think we'll continue to try to be leaders in transportation and the environment and working with communities. I think that's in the kind of DNA of the place. So I don't foresee any any any big changes, but we have big challenges.

Seay: When I was walking the HarborWalk I saw a lot of boats and water taxis. Can we see an increase in the use of the harbor as a transportation mode?

Glynn: You know I think when you look at other cities, Sydney, Australia or Seattle, they have a very active and well-organized water shuttle system, and I think that's a hope for Boston. The way it is now, it's a little bit decentralized, so it's a little hard for people to really know exactly which wharf do I go to to get or which shuttle to go to which location. But that's one of the things that I think the public agencies are working on collectively, because there's there's more opportunity there than I think we've taken advantage of.

Seay: Well congratulations on a successful tenure, you've left Massport in the black, I take it?

Glynn: Well yeah, I inherited it in the black and I haven't messed it up. So yeah, it's still in the black. But it's a challenge. You know, in the old days we used to have the Mystic River Bridge, and that provided a pretty good profit margin and that was transferred back to MassDOT So that's kind of changed, so we're kind of on a skinnier diet than we used to be.

Seay: And what are your plans for the future?

Glynn: So I didn't really talk to anybody before my announcement, I was teaching at the Kennedy School before I took this job. So I've been hoping that maybe I can explore some teaching opportunities along the way. I had a good time teaching, and I wouldn't mind returning to it.

Seay: I'm sure you have a lot of material and stories.

Glynn: I do. I have to be careful not to tell too many stories, but on the other hand, I have a few, yeah.