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Miami Commission Considers Water Taxis and Gondolas as Public Transport

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Two things everyone knows for sure: Miami is surrounded by a lot of water, and Miami has major transportation problems.

Well, at a recent planning and zoning meeting, the City of Miami Commission discussed the possibility of looking beyond buses and trains to fix transportation.

"I'd like to consider water public transportation," Chairman Wifredo "Willy" Gort said at the January 22 meeting. "Miami Beach is beginning to ask for it. Key Biscayne is beginning to ask for it. And we've had people in the past wanting to create [water] taxi routes. I think with as much waterways as we have here, there should be a system where we can transport people and fix ours, especially in the mornings and peak hours and get a lot of the cars off the street. And I'd like Commissioner Suarez to recommend it at the MPO."

Commissioner Francis Suarez is the city's representative for the Miami-Dade Metropolitan Planning Organization.

Gort specifically mentioned connecting mainland Miami to Miami Beach, Key Biscayne, and Dinner Key through water transportation.

"When I was in Hong Kong, I actually took a water taxi, one of the preferred modes of transportation, and it's not very expensive the way they did it," added an apparently well-traveled Commissioner Keon Hardemon. "Then again, they had cabs, trains, trolleys, water taxis. Every mode of transportation that you think you could take besides a helicopter for normal, everyday people, they utilized. In the city of Miami, I could definitely see someone say, 'Hey, I want to party on the Beach. I want to take the water taxi over there.'"

Suarez mentioned he's had trouble presenting ideas to the MPO because its meetings often coincide with commission meetings, but he noted the board is finally addressing the problem. Suarez also attacked the MPO for never accomplishing anything. He noted he might have problems pushing the idea but would definitely bring it up.

Meanwhile, Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff took swipes at the relatively new regime in the City of Miami Beach, warning that it might be difficult to reach an agreement with the city to provide water transportation between the two municipalities.

"There seems to be a move underway by the Beach on a number of issues to exert its political prowess against City of Miami issues," Sarnoff said.

Sarnoff noted Miami Beach's perceived opposition to the long-proposed Baylink system, which would have connected the cities by light rail.

The commissioners also spent a good amount of time complaining about how hard it is for various cities and the county to come to agreements on transportation systems and that the City of Miami suffers the most from this deadlock.

Sarnoff then brought up the idea of using a cable gondola system, like those at ski resorts, as another possibility.

The commission agreed to have Suarez propose a study to the MPO to explore the use of waterways to transport people between Miami Beach and Miami.

Let's see if that step makes it through the bureaucracy.

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