(Photo by Flickr user m01229, used under a Creative Commons license)
“Uber, but for water taxi” sounds like one of the most Baltimore ideas possible, so it’s fitting that the city’s foremost entrepreneur is making it happen.
Kevin Plank’s investment firm is set to become the operator of Baltimore Water Taxi, bringing state-of-the-art boats to harbor waters.
Formally, Sagamore Ventures is acquiring 100 percent of Water Taxi operator Harbor Boating, Inc. The move comes as the city’s Board of Estimates was set to approve a long-term contract for Harbor Boating.
In the bigger picture, the water taxi is one of several modes of transportation identified in Sagamore’s massive redevelopment of Port Covington. With the new captains at the helm, stops will be added in Port Covington and Cherry Hill. By 2017, the number of stops will expand from 12 to 21.
While the water taxi is an iconic highlight for visitors, Sagamore’s plans include expanding its usefulness to commuters. It’s easy to envision the water taxi providing easier transit between tech hubs in Canton, Fells Point, downtown, Locust Point and Federal Hill. Another transit option could be especially important if proposals to shut down the Charm City Circulator’s Green Route to East Baltimore and Banner Route come to fruition.
Amid the conversation about whether all of Baltimore will benefit from the new Under Armour headquarters and massive mixed-use development that surrounds it, Sagamore emphasized that the stops will be added in the South Baltimore neighborhoods that surround the peninsula.
“The new connection to Cherry Hill and Westport is a game-changer for those communities and their ability to access opportunities in Port Covington and the Inner Harbor,” Plank Industries CEO Tom Geddes said in a statement.
About 50 new people will be added to the staff, bringing the total to 150. About 85 percent of those workers will be from Baltimore, said Geddes.
The fleet of boats is also getting a serious upgrade.
Sagamore Ventures will bring new vessels built by South Baltimore-based maritime firm MAPC. The boats, which are expected to appear this fall, are modeled on the Deadrise, a Chesapeake Bay fishing boat known for its V-shaped bottom.
The new boats are slated to be 55 feet long and powered by an electric/hybrid diesel engine that reduces the boats’ carbon emissions. They will also be bike-friendly. The boats will have WiFi, and riders will be able to track the boats via Uber. Sagamore Ventures previously commandeered a test-run of UberBOAT during Light City, and now it’s becoming more permanent.
There are signs that grabbing an Uber in the future may require delineating whether it’s a boat or a car. Sagamore Ventures said plans are also in the works to build an “on-demand Uber-enabled fleet of smaller boats.”-30-
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