With news of a water taxi company beginning operations on the Southwest Waterfront, the question comes to mind how we as a city and region should treat water transit? In recent years, the idea of having water taxi service along the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers has been studied and regular service is now available between Alexandria and National Harbor. If more stops are added and different water taxi companies begin offering reliable service at affordable prices, could water taxi commuting catch on in DC? American River Transit is a new company that will offer water taxi service to the Southwest Waterfront, Georgetown, Diamond Teague Park, and Alexandria, with future stops at Poplar Point and National Airport. They will join Potomac Riverboat Company as those who will have regular ferry service in the region. If water taxis do catch on in DC like they have in other cities, then the most logical place for a regional water transit hub would be the Southwest Waterfront. Can you imagine a multimodal transit facility along the Washington Channel (like Hoboken Terminal), with ferry docks, light rail station, and easy access to L’Enfant Plaza – the most connected Metro station in the system – and its revitalized 10th Street corridor? Water taxis could dock at the ferry terminal, as well as cruise ships like Spirit Cruises and the Odyssey. The current terminal for Spirit Cruises is pictured at top right and the Odyssey terminal is on the left. The new ferry terminal could become an iconic structure on the waterfront, similar to Union Station, National Airport, and Dulles Airport terminals. Heck, memorialize the building and name it after a former president, or connect it to a National Naval Museum.
Construction of a new ferry terminal building could coincide with the redevelopment of the Southwest Waterfront, which should get underway by 2012. There’s a longer-term plan by the National Capital Planning Commission to redesign East Potomac Park and build a canal through there, which would improve boat access to the Southwest Waterfront from the Potomac River. Is a new, iconic ferry terminal building as a part of the redevelopment of the Southwest Waterfront a worthy endeavor? Vote in May’s poll at the top left corner of the blog and/or feel free to make a comment.