Water taxis to be in service Friday

Boats passed Coast Guard inspections

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville's new water taxis passed Coast Guard inspections Thursday and will be in service Friday for the Jaguars' first preseason game.

Service will begin at 4:30 p.m.

Officials took the boats out for test rides and fire and safety drills on the water near the Jacksonville Landing on Thursday.

The Coast Guard found some minor problems that Lakeshore Marine, which has permits to operate the boats, has 30 days to fix. None of them are safety-related.

The two vessels can carry 100 and 48 passengers, respectively.

The previous operator had five boats, so fans who use the water taxis to get to the game should anticipate longer waits.

The two water taxis purchased by the city in June had been sitting idle since their arrival.

Lakeshore Marine has a temporary six-month contract with the city to provide the service. It is negotiating on a five-year contract.

The city wants five or six taxis operating. If Lakeshore can't do that, then the city will enter into contracts for event-based water taxi service with other companies to get the desired number of vessels on the water.

Regular operating hours will begin Saturday. Standard hours of operation will be 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, Saturday and holidays.

During football games at Everbank Field, the water taxis will begin stopping at Metro Park Marina at least three hours before the start of the game and will continue until three hours after the end of the game.

The water taxis will operate along three pickup and drop-off points: the Northbank Riverwalk behind the Jacksonville Landing, the Southbank Riverwalk near Friendship Fountain and the Southbank Riverwalk near the Wyndham. Metro Marina will be an additional stop for game days.

The cost of a one-way trip for football games and special events will be $5 for adults, $4 for children ages 3-12, $4 for seniors 65 and older and free for children younger than 3.

The roundtrip cost will be $7 for adults, $5 for children ages 3-12, $5 for seniors 65 and older and free for children younger than 3.