New Water Taxi Service, High Speed Ferry Pilot Program Come To Tampa

By Kathy Collins

At a meeting of the Tampa Downtown Partnership Downtown Debriefing Series on Tuesday, March 1, waterborne transportation in the Tampa Bay area was discussed. Specifically, the new Pirate Water Taxi was introduced.

Pirate Water Taxi officially began operating over the weekend of February 27 and 28 this year. While there have been water taxi services operating in Tampa for some time (tours and excursions), this one is different. It is modeled after a successful service running in Ft. Lauderdale which transports approximately 370,000 riders per year. Pirate Water Taxi operates on a schedule and is a hop-on hop-off service.

Pirate Water Taxi will make 14 stops along Tampa’s waterfront from the Riverwalk, the Channel District, Davis Islands, Ulele and Rick’s On The Water, to name a few. Pirate Water Taxi will operate seven days a week from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 10 a.m.-12 Midnight on Friday and Saturday. With the growth of downtown, waterborne transportation offers a way to alleviate traffic congestion. According to Troy Manthey, operator of Pirate Water Taxi, “This is the way tourism is going. Tourists want to control their experience with hop-on hop-off options.”

Pirate Water Taxis will be used for lighted excursions during the holidays so residents and visitors can enjoy Tampa’s beautiful waterfront and the lighted bridges. In addition, Pirate Taxi is looking into developing an app similar to Uber and is also looking into reduced pricing for rides after 6 p.m.

The price for an adult ticket is $15, and for children ages 4-12 the price is $8.

In addition to the announcement of Pirate Water Taxi, a pilot program involving a high speed ferry between St. Petersburg and Tampa was also announced. The pilot program will begin in November and will run for six months. The ferries will run on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Each trip will take approximately 40 minutes.

Attorney with Akerman LLP, Ed Turanchik said, “Many things about Tampa make it a great city and water transportation is one of them.” According to Turanchik, pricing for the ferry service has not yet been determined.
St. Petersburg is building infrastructure to accept the high speed ferries which will be operated by HMS Ferries. The project is intended to showcase the transportation option to the region.

For more informatoin, visit piratewatertaxi.com or call 223-7999.