Jacksonville City Council Considers Funding To Keep River Taxi Afloat

Jun 10, 2015

Lake Shore Marine Services Co-owner Heather Surface says the taxis do well on the weekends and during events, but few people ride on weekdays.
Credit St. Johns River Taxi

The operator of Downtown Jacksonville’s St. John’s River Taxi is waiting for a decision that could determine whether it remains in business.

The City Council is considering a deal that could use taxpayer money to keep the boats afloat.

The water taxis in Downtown Jacksonville allow riders to travel to sports games, concerts and events near the St. Johns River. They also connect cultural centers, like MOSH, the Riverside Arts Market and Metropolitan Park.

Lake Shore Marine Services operates the two water taxis. Co-owner Heather Surface says the taxis do well on the weekends and during events, but few people ride on weekdays.

“The service is not sustainable based on ridership alone. At least not from what we’ve experienced in the past 10 months,” said Surface.

The bill before City Council would use a combination of tax dollars and private contributions to help shore up the company.

The city would provide matching funds up to $240,000 over two years. Lakeshore Marine Services would first have to raise private-sector money. The Florida Times-Union and Jacksonville Jaguars have already signed on as partners.

Surface says the goal isn’t just staying in business. She envisions adding sunset cruises, more private tours, and other events that would keep people downtown after hours.

“St. Johns River is our community's greatest asset, and it’s been underutilized for years,” said Surface.

The City Council could vote on the bill before Mayor-elect Lenny Curry takes office July 1.