Water taxis headed for downtown Tampa

- A brand new water taxi service will soon set sail in downtown Tampa.

Yacht Startship is rolling out three pirate-themed boats that will take passengers from the Riverwalk to Channelside, seven days a week.

"It's going to be a hop-on and hop-off tour, so you can come down, spend a day in downtown Tampa, buy one ticket and get on and off as many times as you want," said Troy Manthey, CEO of Yacht Starships.

Rather than sitting in traffic or struggling to find parking downtown on event nights, the service allows passengers to buy an all-day pass aboard the water taxi, getting on and off at 14 stops along the Hillsborough River.

"We're talking about the Marriott Waterside, Harbour Island, Davis Island, the Straz Center, Curtis Hixon Park, to name a few," said Manthey.

The boats will operate from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays, with extended hours until midnight on weekends. All-day passes are $15 for adults and $8 for children. Passengers can purchase tickets online or onboard the boat with cash or credit.

"Who wants to be stuck in traffic? If you're on the water, you always have a clear path," said Tampa resident T.J. Couch, who frequents Ulele for dinner along the riverfront.

"I grew up in Tampa. This is my city by choice, and for the longest time, it didn't appear that Tampa embraced the waterfront," said Couch. "And now in the last five years or so, it's almost like the city has awoken and sees that they are on the water."

With the expansion of the Riverwalk, many residents are interested in new ways to explore the city outside of their vehicles.

Members of Tampa's Shakespear in the Park are optimistic the new taxi service will be a hit by March, when their shows resume at Waterworks Park.

"We're really hopeful that it's going to bring a couple of extra people over here, who might accidentally stumble upon us," said Megan Lamasnei.

The water taxi service will launch on February 27.

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