Could City-Owned Duck Boats Fix Brickell's Traffic Woes?

A duck boat captain has proposed adding the amphibious vehicles to the city's public transportation system.
A duck boat captain has proposed adding the amphibious vehicles to the city's public transportation system.

Another day in Miami, another occasion to bitch about traffic. In Brickell, it’s so bad that even the valet parkers say their tips have been cut in half because the roads are so congested that the cars can’t even get to a valet station.

But one Miamian has a public transportation plan to save us all from killing one another as we text and drive brave the roads: duck boats!

Capt. Andy Langesfeld of Miami Pirate Duck Tours has been lobbying city commissioners with a unique transit plan: setting up what he calls “an amphibious public transportation system” that would cart tourists and locals through the city on both land and sea.

Because the trolley ducks are able to go from street to water seamlessly, the vehicles, in theory, would be able to bypass traffic jams and alleviate congestion on Brickell's clogged bridges by simply hopping into the Miami River and coming out on the other side.

"The Brickell area is surrounded by water," Langesfeld says. "We’ve got pretty congested streets and highways, but we take routes that nobody else sees as ways of connecting."

Langesfeld envisions the duck boats as a complement to existing transit options, especially during large events.

"We could go to Marlins Park using the water and avoiding the traffic," he says. "When people see us seamlessly entering the water and joining the MacArthur Causeway or Julia Tuttle, they say, 'Wow, this makes sense.'"

The idea may not be as far-fetched as it seems. Last year, Uber launched an UberBOAT option during Art Basel with a similar aim: shuttling people from Miami Beach to the mainland on a fleet of luxury yachts that avoided the traffic hell of the MacArthur and Julia Tuttle causeways.

Langesfeld says he hasn’t gotten much traction with city leaders so far. But he hopes they will someday warm up to his idea.

"People come on board and they all say, 'Why don’t we see more of these buses?' That’s why I’m making these approaches to the politicians, but in the end, they hold the keys here."


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