Water taxi service opens for business in Tampa

- A new transportation service is changing the way Tampa residents navigate the Bay area.

A water taxi service opened for business last week, providing an alternative to busy roadways. The three-taxi fleet operated by “Yacht Starship” offers rides seven days a week along 14 stops.

Stops include Downtown Tampa, Harbour Island, History Center/Amalie Arena, the Convention Center,
Jackson’s Bistro, Bayshore Boulevard, Davis Island and the Riverwalk.

“Adding activity to the waterfront, adding restaurants, adding bars and adding the ability to move up and down the water is going to be critical,” said Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. “A new water taxi service I think fits perfectly with what we’re trying to do.”

Unlike a sightseeing tour, the new water taxi provides “hop on and hop off” transportation for those who work or attend school downtown.

“Med students are going to have to get to Tampa General Hospital. They’ll be able to go across the Harbor easily. They can walk; they can get on a bike; they can get on the water taxi. It fits perfectly,” Mayor Bob Buckhorn added.

The water taxi comes ahead of a ferry service program scheduled to launch this fall. The St. Petersburg-Tampa pilot ferry project includes a fast passenger ferry operating between Tampa and St. Pete on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

The company, HMS Ferries, is behind the project scheduled to launch in November 2016. It’s expected to continue for six months, highlighting transportation options available throughout the Bay area. Those behind the project say it will “connect to Tampa’s new pirate water taxi service and the Ybor street car.”

Mayor Buckhorn described the overall impact.

“These water taxis can go all the way up the river as long as its deep enough, but more importantly, it is going to expose all these customers to an amazing waterfront, amazing skyline. They’ll be able to travel up the bridges that are lit up at night, see the University of Tampa. I think it is going to be a great exposure for our city and for a small business person to create a product that hasn’t existed before,” said the Mayor. “I think it is all complimentary. It’s all pieces of a much larger puzzle… The river walk is a piece of it. The expansion onto the west side of the river is a piece of it. It’s all fitting perfectly together. You will not recognize this city in five years. Part of it will be because of those investments, largely driven by the Riverwalk, but also the businesses that will grow and thrive as a result of it.”

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