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Charlotte Amalie
Friday, August 12, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesWE NEED WATER BUSES, NOT TAXIS

WE NEED WATER BUSES, NOT TAXIS

It's time to drop the words "water taxis" from our collective vocabulary. Their very mention raises such red flags, such hackles, such emotions that we'd all be better off if those two little words were banned.
Instead we'd like to introduce an alternative concept: water buses.
Those who have traveled to Venice understand how water buses work. In Venice they're called vaporetti, and they plow the Grand Canal and the lesser waterways on established routes and timetables. If you want to go to Murano, you catch one vaporetto. If you want to go to the Piazza San Marco, you catch another. Signs are posted at vaporetti stops showing which boats stop there and what routes they follow. Just like buses.
St. Thomas needs water buses too.
Our roads can't accommodate all our cars, especially on heavy cruise ship days. Residents complain. Overnight visitors complain. Cruise-ship passengers complain. The only people who don't complain about the nightmarish traffic are the taxi drivers, and unfortunately they have been given virtual veto-power over any form of water transportation.
So far. But that's because we've been looking at water transportation the wrong way, as water taxis instead of water buses.
It is time to provide water buses as part of our public transportation network. They need to ply such routes as Frenchtown-to-downtown-to Havensight to alleviate traffic congestion and eliminate the need to build more or bigger roads.
This does not, of course, mean that the government should run the water buses. On the contrary, government should not run this service. It should be privatized.
We would propose that the Public Works Department – perhaps in cooperation with the West Indian Co. Ltd. and the V.I. Port Authority – draft a Request for Proposals to provide water bus service. First priority should be given to local groups, with special consideration to any conglomeration made up of land-based taxi drivers who invest in a new company to bid for a water-bus contract.
But this should be done with or without the taxi drivers.
If they want to tip their hats to the inevitable – and some form of water transportation for residents and visitors is inevitable or we are going to lose our luster and drive visitors away – they will leap to the head of the parade instead of hanging back and sniping.

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It's time to drop the words "water taxis" from our collective vocabulary. Their very mention raises such red flags, such hackles, such emotions that we'd all be better off if those two little words were banned.
Instead we'd like to introduce an alternative concept: water buses.
Those who have traveled to Venice understand how water buses work. In Venice they're called vaporetti, and they plow the Grand Canal and the lesser waterways on established routes and timetables. If you want to go to Murano, you catch one vaporetto. If you want to go to the Piazza San Marco, you catch another. Signs are posted at vaporetti stops showing which boats stop there and what routes they follow. Just like buses.
St. Thomas needs water buses too.
Our roads can't accommodate all our cars, especially on heavy cruise ship days. Residents complain. Overnight visitors complain. Cruise-ship passengers complain. The only people who don't complain about the nightmarish traffic are the taxi drivers, and unfortunately they have been given virtual veto-power over any form of water transportation.
So far. But that's because we've been looking at water transportation the wrong way, as water taxis instead of water buses.
It is time to provide water buses as part of our public transportation network. They need to ply such routes as Frenchtown-to-downtown-to Havensight to alleviate traffic congestion and eliminate the need to build more or bigger roads.
This does not, of course, mean that the government should run the water buses. On the contrary, government should not run this service. It should be privatized.
We would propose that the Public Works Department - perhaps in cooperation with the West Indian Co. Ltd. and the V.I. Port Authority - draft a Request for Proposals to provide water bus service. First priority should be given to local groups, with special consideration to any conglomeration made up of land-based taxi drivers who invest in a new company to bid for a water-bus contract.
But this should be done with or without the taxi drivers.
If they want to tip their hats to the inevitable - and some form of water transportation for residents and visitors is inevitable or we are going to lose our luster and drive visitors away - they will leap to the head of the parade instead of hanging back and sniping.