Water taxi debuts on Potomac

The Potomac River Boat Company launched its first water taxi that drops riders off at West Potomac Park at Ohio Drive SW and West Basin Drive SW. (WTOP/Mike Murillo)

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Now, there is a new way to get to the National Mall from Old Town Alexandria and it doesn’t involve wheels or rails.

The Potomac River Boat Company launched its first water taxi that drops riders off at West Potomac Park at Ohio Drive SW and West Basin Drive SW.

As the ship “Miss Sophie” pulled into the slips near the Old Dominion Boat Club in Old Town Alexandria, Benjamin Fiore-Walker, Town Crier for Alexandria, dressed in revolutionary garb, read from a scroll.

“For all those wishing to go to the Mall, but the thought of diving on highways makes you want to bawl,” he yelled. “Now you can get there in style, riding across the river wave, where you can sit in comfort in the shade, or at the bow if you are brave.”

“It’s a great way to get people there without a bus, without a car,” says Willem Polak, CEO of Potomac River Boat Company. “You can load on bow or stern so she can rest against the sea wall which is historic on the Mall and not damage that.”

The ship is a prototype vessel which holds 49 passengers and has a shallow draft which means “you can load on bow or stern so she can rest against the sea wall which is historic on the Mall and not damage that,” Polak says.

City officials hope this boat will bring a welcomed boost to the Old Town Alexandria economy, as it give tourists an easy ride to the historic town.

“I think it will bring more people to Alexandria who want to stay in a great small town location, but they want easy access to the National Mall and D.C.,” says Patricia Washington, President of the Alexandria Convention and Visitors Association. “This new link creates a world class experience of the malls, museums and monuments and Old Town’s fabric of early American history.”

The boat will run from April 4, 2014 through Nov. 2, 2014. From April 4 through April 13, Cherry Blossom season, the boat will leave Alexandria four times a day and D.C. 5 times a day. The trip costs $14 one way for adults and $8 for children under 12.

John Lake, General Manager for Boat Operations at Potomac River Boat Company hopes more people will now decide against a road trip to D.C.’s historical sites.

“You get on a boat and you don’t have to deal with the hassles of parking, you don’t have to deal with worrying about driving,” said Lake.

He hopes this water taxi is a positive step forward when it comes to water based transportation in the D.C. area.

“The Potomac River is currently underutilized for transportation which is one of the things that we are trying to work on,” Lake says.

Click here to see the full schedule.

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