To Combat Miami Traffic, Local Governments Look to Water Transit

The City of Miami Beach has started service of a weekend water taxi in hopes of alleviating traffic.
The City of Miami Beach has started service of a weekend water taxi in hopes of alleviating traffic. photo via City of Miami Beach
Sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the MacArthur Causeway, you ball up your fists and inexplicably honk your horn, because Miami logic dictates you must. As you let out a guttural cry, a Jet Ski zips past you in the water. Your first inkling — Is it DJ Khaled?! — subsides as a second, more loathsome thought makes its way to the tip of your tongue: Screw that guy.

We've all been there, harboring jealousy over the seemingly effortless way boaters breeze across Biscayne Bay while you're stuck in standstill traffic. But now more than ever, local governments in Miami-Dade are trying to make water transit a realistic alternative for the Everyman.

Last week, the City of Miami Beach began service on its weekend water taxi, which picks up riders at the Purdy Avenue dock in Sunset Harbour and makes stops at Sea Isle Marina on the mainland, Bayside Marketplace, and the Miami Beach Marina. For now, the water taxi is on an experimental basis and will operate as part of a one-year pilot program to test demand.

"We started the water taxi to offer a viable alternative to commuting to and from the mainland," city spokeswoman Melissa Berthier says.

The water taxi runs Friday through Sunday from roughly 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. (check here for schedules). Though it's not exactly cheap — a round trip costs $20 for Miami Beach residents and $30 for everyone else — it could be a good option for high-traffic weekends such as Art Basel and Ultra.
click to enlarge VIA CITY OF MIAMI BEACH
via City of Miami Beach
Miami-Dade also looks poised to get into the water game. Commissioner Javier Souto is asking the county to update an 11-year-old study on the feasibility of waterborne transportation solutions. Souto's resolution says rapid population growth and coastal development have made it necessary to come up with innovative solutions to traffic gridlock. Berthier says Miami Beach has been in discussions with the county to expand the city's water taxi service.

The concept isn't as crazy as it might sound. For the past two years, Uber has been offering a special UberBoat option during event weekends, and one duck boat operator thinks his fleet holds the keys (bonus Khaled reference!) to Brickell's traffic woes.

Though the idea might seem like a novelty better suited to tourists than locals, Miami Beach hopes the service will appeal to residents looking to avoid the headache of South Florida roads.

"Our goal is for the water taxi to be an everyday service for commuters and visitors," Berthier says.
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Jessica Lipscomb is news editor of Miami New Times and an enthusiastic Florida Woman. Born and raised in Orlando, she has been a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists.
Contact: Jessica Lipscomb