Water taxis could hit SF waterfront along with America’s Cup 

click to enlarge Officials hope the America's Cup will revive interest in water taxis. - GETTY IMAGES FILE PHOTO
  • Getty Images file photo
  • Officials hope the America's Cup will revive interest in water taxis.

Sailing boats may not be the only new thing hitting the water in the Bay for the America’s Cup. Port officials in The City are hoping the world-famous race will revive dormant plans for a long-discussed water taxi service in the Bay.

In 2010, the Port of San Francisco issued pier landing rights to San Francisco Water Taxi LLC, in hopes that the group would begin offering taxi service between the North Bay and San Francisco by the end of the year. Financing for that plan never materialized though, and the water taxi proposal was abandoned in October.

But with all eyes on the Bay for the America’s Cup, the Port is once again reaching out to interested parties about the possibility of bringing water taxi service to the region in time for the sailing regatta.

Sometime within the next two months, the Port will issue request for information bids to prospective taxi service providers, with the hopes that multiple companies respond, said spokesman Renee Dunn Martin.

Dunn Martin said it might be too ambitious to have the water taxi service up and running in time for the America’s Cup World Series races that will start in August, but she said the plan is have the system in place for the 2013 version of the event.

Paul Rose, spokesman for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which is in charge of coordinating transportation for the America’s Cup, said the agency would work with the Port to implement water taxi services for the event.  

John Scannell, president of San Francisco Water Taxi LLC, said it was difficult to get investors for the venture since water taxi service had never been established in the Bay before. He said that with America’s Cup set to start in August, the impetus might be there now for financiers to back the plan.
“We’re just waiting on investors,” said John Scannell. “If there is legitimate funding, we would certainly be interested in bringing back the water taxi plan.”

Under the original plan envisioned for the service, the taxis wouldn’t compete with already-established regional ferry systems. Instead, the ships — capable of carrying anywhere from 12-49 passengers — would act as on-call service providers that could quickly whisk travelers from port to port. With plans to travel at 45 knots, John Scannell said his water taxis could make it from Sausalito to the Hyde Street pier in just over five minutes.


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