Delaware River water taxis: Tours, fun… just not, uh, taxis

I spent an afternoon in a Delaware River water taxi. It was pretty great.

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Jenna Eason/Billy Penn

Water taxis have returned for the second summer on the Delaware. The long-gestating launch last year was more than a decade in the making. As Billy Penn reported, the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation bought three 22-person boats in 2003, but lost funding for them before the project was complete and docks were installed. The docks were finally built in 2014.

Here’s the catch: They’re not actually taxis.

What’s available now is a sightseeing option that departs from Spruce Street Harbor Park. The cost for a 30-minute tour on the 22-seater is $15. It is essentially a history-filled cruise that points out battleship after battleship. But this is more fun than it sounds. Like yeah, this is a cool thing to do with your military nerd grandfather this Father’s Day. But it’s also a good thing to do on lazy weekend.

How much of a good time is it? Let me put it this way. On the taxi, water from the river spritzes and splashes onto you. I had just gotten my hair done for a wedding the night before. I was enjoying myself so much, I didn’t care.

The soundtrack— “Rock the Boat,” “Waterfalls, “Bridge over Troubled Water” and the like— is fun and cute for hokeyness. But mostly, I was cheesing to be that close to the current. The “I’m on a Boat” feels are real.

While there are those who’ve eyed the taxis as a transit option, it isn’t really… totally… yet. Last year, a spokeswoman told Billy Penn’s Anna Orso that the boats were to be used to help shuttle folks when needed, as a supplement to the concert ferries taking folks from Penn’s Landing to Susquehanna Bank Park. But, current DRWC spokeswoman Quinn Logan wrote us yesterday that they aren’t being used that way. “There is not a concert shuttle option this year,” she said in an email. “There is no dock in Camden for the shuttles, and we weren’t able to build one before the season started. We’re trying to get one put in for next year.”

Water taxi Captain Gil Perez mentioned that they’re working on a concert options for VIPs though, but didn’t say when. “Hopefully soon, you know? We just started here. Baby steps,” he said.

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