Commuters May Get New Option Between Miami and Miami Beach, But at What Cost to Manatees?

Plan for Water Taxi Service Has Some Concerned About Manatee Safety

Commuters between Miami and Miami Beach are used to gridlock and bumper to bumper traffic on their way to and from the beach.

But, what if instead of sitting in traffic on the MacArthur Causeway and other roadway, you could make that trip between the two cities by boat? Water taxis may soon become a reality, but would you use them, if it meant putting the Manatees in Biscayne Bay at risk?

If City of Miami Commissioner Francis Suarez has his way, drivers will soon have water taxis as a new option for their commute.

“With a water taxi it’s something we can do right away. It’s very simple with a resolution,” Suarez said.

On May 24th Suarez says the city will vote on the resolution he penned to allow for privately owned water taxi companies to makes various stops throughout the city. The goal is to reduce the traffic congestion.

Operation along the Miami river and Biscayne Bay might not be too far down the road as well.

“I think we can get it operating within the next 6six months,” Suarez said. In Miami alone, along the river and the bay, there’s a plan for more than two dozens stops where people can be picked up and dropped off.

But probably the most attractive part of having water taxis is the ability to offer service between Miami and Miami Beach.

Captain Dan Kipnis is the chairman of the Miami Beach Marine and Water Front Protection Authority. He said the beach is also planning docks for water taxis.

“Put a rail down one side and the water taxi can pull straight in. Drop the people off and back right out,” Kipnis said. “Here this is the north end of South Beach... one at the end of Lincoln Road so people can walk to the mall... 10th street and Miami Beach Marina.”

But if people plan to sail across the Bay, they can’t forget about manatees and their well being.

According to Tropical Audubon Executive Director Laura Reynolds, more boats mean more danger for manatees. She said there is only one way she’ll support the plan, by “...working with manatee experts to figure out everything you can possibly do to make those water taxis safe for manatees even if the trip takes longer.”

Commissioner Suarez and Kipnis both promise that consideration will be taken.

“We want to make sure that everything we do, whether it’s the size of the vessel, the area where it operates in, the speed with which it operates is done with care,” Suarez said. “They have to follow every single manatee rule that’s already in place.”

Again, the first step toward making the plan a reality will be the City of Miami Commission vote on May 24th.

As far as what the cost would be for a water taxi trip, no price has been set yet, but we're told it will be affordable.

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