New River Taxi a green way to travel by water
Beginning at the Marcus Amphitheater, the Milwaukee Riverwalk follows three miles of waterways to connect Downtown with its neighboring neighborhoods, and by Memorial Day weekend, Milwaukee residents and tourists will have a new way to enjoy it.
Business partners Aaron Kelly and Aaron Brock are launching the Milwaukee River Taxi, an aquatic shuttle service with a series of stops at docks, restaurants and bars along the Riverwalk. Kelly and Brock partnered with Milwaukee River Cruise Lines, who operates the Edelweiss ships, to captain a fleet of five Duffy Electric Boats between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
"We're the only water taxi service using electric boats," says Kelly, who owns Inner Harbor Marine, beneath the Harbor Front condominiums at 587 E. Erie St., where the boats will dock. "Seattle uses electric boats, but theirs is more of a tour and rental service rather than a traditional taxi."
The difference, says Kelly, is purpose. Unlike the Edelweiss vessels, the Milwaukee River Taxis are not cruise ships meant for lengthy tours. Like a bus line, the water taxis make regular stops at 12- to 15-minute intervals and for $10, people can use it as many times as they'd like between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. and midnight on Friday and Saturday. A one-way fare is $5.
The proposed stops include Rock Bottom Brewery, the Water Buffalo dock, the Chase Tower dock, the Mason and Plankinton Street docks, Pere Marquette Park and the new Harley-Davidson Museum.
Milwaukee River Taxi is trying to get many of the city-owned docks designated as official water taxi stops.
"When they designed the Riverwalk, they incorporated huge floating piers and docks as predetermined water taxi stops with actual signage," says Kelly. "The city thought someone would do this, but until now, no one has."
Brock says the water taxi service is designed to improve quality of life among local residents as well as a fun way for tourists to experience the city.
"We wanted to create something that would make Milwaukee a better place in the summer," he says. "We wanted to give Milwaukee a new tourism vessel, a new vessel to explore more of what the river has to offer. And because we've gone with en electric boat line, we're not doing anything to pollute the river."
The Duffy Electric Boats are 22 feet long, nine feet wide and hold 11 passengers plus a captain. Each has a completely closing canopy to hold in heat or air conditioning if need be.
"We went with Duffy because they are completely quiet and have zero emissions," says Kelly. "It's great to be in one of these boats and just hearing the water slapping against the hull."
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Perfect idea, perfect price...This takes Milwaukee to that next level of urban jazziness. Can't wait to flag you down. SOOO much better than a booze cruise. Saw an electric boat last year going up and down the River, thought it a great looking boat.
In the second year of operation, we are planning to expand our fleet to extend our service northward as you mentioned. The key to the success of the service is the interval time between vessels. We must keep the interval as low as possible to provide customers a reliable and swift service. With 5 vessels in the first year, we believe we can manage the downstream portion of the river effectively.
I ave done my research and agree with you on the price. But, what this article does not speak of is that we are not seeking public funding, whereas other cities provide public funding for their water taxi service.
Passenger vessels by law do not require wheel chair accessibility. Because of this, most passenger vessels are not designed to board wheels chairs.
B | March 19, 2008 at 3:02 p.m. (report)
LOOOOOOOOVE this!!! I am a resident of a building on the riverwalk and see the benefits of this already. Very exciting!
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