Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Water taxis/ferries in the DC region

Amsterdam ring of canels sept. 2011    089
Floating Dutchman, Flickr photo by Jan van den Heuvel, Fotograaf, Apeldoorn.NL

One of the reasons that I tend to think that water taxis and ferries aren't that practical as a form of regular transportation in the DC metropolitan area is that the Potomac River isn't well situated for commuter transportation.

For example, with regard to water taxis within DC, the Riverbank, except in Georgetown, is pretty far from built up areas. So the "advantage" of taking a water taxi is obviated because of the comparatively long distance required to get from the dock to your final destination--there are no speed advantages in the end over Metro, and it costs more. (Since Georgetown doesn't have direct Metro service, it can be advantageous there, but still expensive.)

In the future, water taxi service back and forth between the north and south banks of the Anacostia between the "Capitol Riverfront" and baseball stadium and Poplar Point will make sense if Poplar Point is developed in some fashion--this would be comparable to water taxi service at various points in the Inner Harbor in Baltimore.

For ferry service, it just seems like the distance required to get from places like Woodbridge to say Alexandria (17 miles by road, longer by the river), National Airport, or "Downtown" DC (too bad there isn't a canal connection from the River to Downtown, not unlike how the Chicago River flows in Downtown Chicago) makes ferry service impractical, because the trip length means you need multiple boats to be able to have much impact on traffic congestion on I-95 and the boats are expensive, not to mention that in the major destination, DC, the connection is not that direct.

(The Staten Island Ferry run between the Island and Manhattan is 5.2 miles. The other water ferry services between Manhattan and New Jersey, or Brooklyn and Queens travel much shorter distances.)

Still, I wonder if the new water bus (Floating Dutchman) being deployed in Amsterdam, first just within Amsterdam's canals, and now to bring people from the airport to Amsterdam via the River--granted this is a tourist-focused operation, as the trip costs 39 euros--becomes an option for tourist travel, but not a "practical" form of daily transportation. See the blog entry "Floating Dutchman" from the Velo Mondial blog.

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