Water taxi service proposed between Sarasota and Anna Maria Island

SARASOTA, Fla.  (WFLA) — Traveling between Sarasota and Anna Maria Island could soon get a whole lot easier. Officials are mulling over whether to allow a new water taxi service that would connect Sarasota Bay to Bradenton Beach.

At this tranquil paradise south of Tampa Bay, one of the most valuable resources is the water. It’s not only precious for its beauty but also it’s potential.

“Many communities would die to have a resource like our waterways,” said Captain Sherman Baldwin with Paradise Boat Tours.

It’s no secret the Sarasota area is growing and with it are growing pains- congestion and lack of parking. So, Baldwin is offering a solution- a water taxi!

“I think our infrastructure, our land-based infrastructure is stressed to the limits,” said Baldwin

He wants to run a 149 passenger ferry between Sarasota Bay and the Bridge Street Pier on Anna Maria Island.

It would be used by day trippers and vacationers, but most importantly it can be used by commuters. Sarasota city officials will consider the proposal at an upcoming meeting, but so far they’re excited.

“I’m sure there’s a lot of people who would love to come down this area, but sometimes you just don’t want to challenge the roadways and the traffic congestion,” said City of Sarasota Parking Manager Mark Lyons.

The service would only cost $12.50 for a round trip ticket. The hourly ferry would run seven days a week and starting next year, Baldwin would bring in a high speed catamaran which would do the trip in 29 minutes.

You could call it a quick, easy commute with a view.

“We’re blessed with that, we should take advantage of it,” said Baldwin.

Paradise Boat Tours would also offer a sort of ‘Uber’ boat service. You can call or use an app to call a small high speed boat to take you to Mote Marine Aquarium, the Van Wezel or other areas around Sarasota Bay.

Commissioners will discuss the proposal at an upcoming meeting. If the taxi is approved, service could begin as soon as February 15.

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