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Nats Games and Metro Shutdown a Boon to Water Taxi Ridership

The World Series wasn’t just a win for the Nats — it was also a boon for Alexandria’s water taxis.

The aquatic commute route was hailed as a “super-secret” way to dodge World Series crowds, and company officials said hundreds did ferry their way to Navy Yard — capping a season of growth for the service.

“During the recent World Series weekend, we operated three special ‘Baseball Boats’ between Alexandria City Marina and Diamond Teague carrying around 450 people to each home game,” said Nicola McShane, a spokeswoman for the Potomac Riverboat Company’s parent company, Hornblower Cruises and Events.

Water taxi tickets for the home games from Alexandria sold out last Saturday, October 26, though the company was still selling some from the Wharf.

In March, the Potomac Riverboat Company, which runs the water taxis, announced it would run river trips during all home games for the Nats and D.C. United, reported Patch.

The company also added four new boats to its fleet, which helped add seven trips between 6:40-9:20 a.m. on weekdays in preparation for the Metro’s station repair projects that shuttered multiple stations this summer.

But in August after the shutdown ended, Mayor Justin Wilson announced the service was so popular the city was asking the Riverboat company to continue running extended service through the end of the year, and is due to vote on loosening regulations next year to make the new scheduled permanent.

“I am optimistic that this success will provide an opening to make the use of our water as a viable commuting option, a permanent feature for our community,” said the mayor.

The ridership bump may have been in part because the City of Alexandria offered to reimburse water taxi commuters for their fares. In total, the city spent $28,214 reimbursing the fares with $5,642  from the city’s budget, and the rest from a state transportation grant, according to Sarah Godfrey, spokesman for the Department of Transportation & Environmental Services.

But commuters also praised the taxis’ fresh air, food and drinks, and lack of crowds when traveling on the Potomac (though the river poses its own risks.)

Perhaps surprisingly in Old Town, where parking issues run rampant, Godfrey noted the city did not receive any parking complaints this summer as more people than ever boarded the water taxis.

“We do not collect parking data directly, but both [Potomac Riverboat Company] and our own survey of those seeking reimbursement suggests most users walk to the water taxi,” she told ALXnow. “In fact, 78 percent of those who sought our reimbursement either walked or biked to the water taxi.”

The total ridership for 2018 was “over 250,000”, according to the CEO Kenneth Svendsen, who previously told Patch it was the company’s “best-ever performance to date.”

McShane declined to share the company’s overall 2019 ridership numbers with ALXnow, but noted that “we have seen a significant increase in guests using our services to navigate and explore the wider metropolitan area when compared to last year. This demonstrates there is a real, and growing appetite for water taxi transport.”

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