The Miami International Boat Show’s water taxi service to and from the show was so successful that local officials are discussing exploration of a public water transit system.
The boat show saw months of opposition to its plan to reduce traffic on the Rickenbacker Causeway, which is the only way to and from the new show site on Virginia Key and tends to become clogged with traffic when no event takes place.
The argument from neighboring Key Biscayne officials, who vociferously opposed the show’s move to the Miami Marine Stadium Park and Basin, was that Miami residents love their cars and won’t be persuaded to use shuttle buses or water taxis.
Now Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado says the boat show “started the conversation” around a public water transit system, an idea he called a “no brainer” for helping unclog Miami traffic, given the abundance of water, according to Miami Today.
Miami Commissioner Wifredo “Willy” Gort, who has championed expanding water transportation in the area, asked the National Marine Manufacturers Association how many people took advantage of the water taxis at a city commission meeting.
“Everyone said the public transportation would not work. It worked fabulously,” show director Cathy Rick-Joule said at the meeting, according to the paper. “The only problem was, we couldn’t keep up with it. It was more popular than we could have possibly imagined,” she said. But that is “fixable,” she said, “and we are excited about that opportunity.”
“We had planned to transfer 25,000 people via water taxi, but we wound up transporting almost 53,000,” said NMMA president Thom Dammrich. “About 75 to 80 percent of people who attended the show used the park and ride, meaning they used water taxis or shuttle buses. So our communications were extremely successful.”