Chiles continues to push for water taxis

Chiles continues to push for water taxis
Sarasota Bay could soon be a water taxi route, easing the extremely limited beach parking available on Anna Maria Island. - Jason Schaffer | Sun

ANNA MARIA ISLAND – The subject of a water taxi service comes up often at Manatee County Tourist Development Council meetings, and this was once again the case on Oct. 18 when the longest-serving board member, Ed Chiles, raised the issue to Mark Stuckey, the chief operating officer for the Sarasota Bradenton International Airport.

Stuckey had just finished his presentation to the TDC on the latest statistics regarding the airport when Chiles brought up the water taxi issue. 

“We’ve been talking about water taxis forever; we’re talking about it again now. At what point are we going to stop talking about it and do something about it?” asked Chiles, addressing Stuckey. “I can’t think of anything more exciting than the ability to connect with a green way to get out to the islands or to Sarasota with something that is cutting edge.” 

Stuckey said that the airport’s proximity to railroad tracks that go to downtown Sarasota and downtown Bradenton has been pointed out. As far as the water taxi being linked to SRQ, Stuckey admits that discussion has not been brought up as of late. 

Although SRQ has not been active in moving forward with a water taxi service, Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Elliott Falcione said they have been making progress.

“We’ve done some due diligence just recently, meeting with some water taxi guys, finding out what they need and what their costs are,” said Falcione, who said they are getting much closer to launching a water taxi program.

“It’s bold, but I think we need to be bold. We aren’t going to build another bridge to the island in our lifetime. We need to do something so we don’t suffer gridlock,” Chiles said.

Falcione concluded the discussion by telling Chiles that they would probably have an update on the water taxi proposal update for the December TDC meeting.