New water taxi touts potential for commuter runs

\'Miss Sophie\' carries passengers from the Georgetown Waterfront Park to the National Harbor. (WTOP/Hank Silverberg)

WASHINGTON – An old form of transportation is becoming new again. It may be geared for tourists, but there’s big potential as a commuter route.

“Miss Sophie,” a 49-passenger front-end loading water taxi, began a new run from National Harbor in Prince George’s County, Md., to the Georgetown Waterfront Park in the District, with one stop along the National Mall near the Memorial Bridge.

“We’re making the run from National Harbor to the Mall stop in about 40 minutes,” says Sophie’s Captain John Lake.

He says it takes another 15 minutes to get to the Georgetown Waterfront.

Sophie travels at 19 to 20 knots — much faster than most of the tourist boats, which go at about 12 knots.

“We designed it as a bow loader, so we basically nose up to the dock, keep the boat in gear, hold it against the dock, and we’re able to have people hop off and hop on,” Lake says.

The boat runs three times a day from Tuesday through Sunday and has service on Mondays that fall on holidays.

Fares can be as little as $5 to $30, depending on where you get on and off and whether you are going round trip.

The Potomac Riverboat Company, which runs the taxi, is considering an expansion to commuter runs, possibly to the south in the future. It also runs the very successful Baseball Ferry, which carries passengers from Alexandria to a stop near Nationals Stadium.

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