Float Past Gridlock

New water taxi service

Sick of sitting in city traffic? There's a new way to get around.

Chicago's water taxi companies now offer commuters a ride during the morning and evening rush hours. The pilot season for the River North Water Taxi will run until September, when the river begins its trek toward frozen hibernation. But for the remainder of the summer, Chicago commuters have yet another way to get around the Second City.

Taxis make stops at Union Station, Willis Tower and Michigan Avenue with Erie Street serving as the hub. The taxi-boat is a custom built T-boat named "Blue Dog"," with a maximum capacity of 94 passengers, according to Shoreline Sitghtseeing, the company that runs the taxi. The boat tops out at about 12 m.p.h. and the whole trip takes about 15 minutes.

The river cruiser is heralded as the "first ever residential-oriented" stop by Alderman Brendan Reilly (42nd Ward). A ride costs $1 in the morning and $3 in the evening, which is better than a regular taxi.

The new mode of Chicago transportation comes on the heels of Venetian night, when residents show off their boats on the lake, a nuance that isn't lost on The Motel Bar manager, Matt Sokol.

"It's a great idea," Sokol, who thinks the idea will be a big hit, told the Tribune. "It's glamorous, like Venice."

Shoreline Sightseeing spent about $20,000 to build the Erie stop. The company plans to absorb much of the cost.

"It's not going to be super lucrative," company co-owner Matthew Collopy said. "But it makes our services comprehensive and encompassing."

Check them out yourself at: www.shorelinesightseeing.com

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