Transportation

Water taxis ready to splash into Bay

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Two Bay Area companies are set to begin competing in a choppy marketplace: Shuttling well-heeled clients around the blustery waters of San Francisco Bay.

After years of studies and hiccups selecting vendors, the Port Commission Tuesday approved five-year contracts with two firms to provide water taxi services to and between waterfront locations in San Francisco.

Sausalito-based Tideline expects to launch today its first 12-passenger boat carrying passengers to and from the San Francisco watefront and lower Marin County.

Published Tideline fares start at $30 between the Ferry Terminal and AT&T Park, and climb to $102.25 for a trip between AT&T and Sausalito. Trips must be pre-arranged either by telephone or via their website.

San Francisco Water Taxi, on the other hand, expects to offer more informal service between Hyde Street Harbor, Pier 1-1/2, and South Beach Harbor. Owner Dave Thomas told The Ex he hopes to carry their first passengers sometime in October:

“I always felt there was a reason we did not have this here. I couldn’t understand why.”

Water taxis are popular in many European cities, though their use in the United States has been limited.

New York City has had a fun, hop-on, hop-off water taxi providing service to Manhattan’s West Side and Brooklyn since 2002. New Yorkers get a full day of riding on the water — aboard bright-yellow boats, no less — for just $26.

Both Bay Area outfits likely hope a swell of attention toward America’s Cup and the waterfront in 2013 will buoy their business models and establish demand for their pricey yet distinctive service.

Jesse Garnier
Jesse Garnier is the editor and founder of SFBay. A Mission District native, he also teaches journalism as assistant professor at San Francisco State University.

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