Chicago Water Taxi Rates on the Rise

By Casey Cora on February 20, 2013 6:10am 

CHINATOWN — Rates for the city’s water taxis are rising.

Wendella Bout Tours, the company that operates the Chicago Water Taxi, confirmed the fare hikes on Tuesday.

Single ride prices from the Ogilvie Transportation Center to Michigan Avenue will remain at the current $3 weekday and $4 weekend rates, but ten-ride passes will see an increase, with fares now costing $17.50, up from $16. And a 31-day day pass now costs $60, up from $45.

All-day unlimited rates on the weekdays will now cost $8 and $10 on weekends, up from $7.

One-way rides from Ogilvie to Chinatown's Ping Tom Memorial Park will cost $4 weekdays and $5 on weekends, up from $3.

A jaunt down the majestic Chicago River from Michigan Avenue to Chinatown on a weekday will now cost $6 weekday and $7 on a weekend, each up one buck.

New this year, trips from Ogilvie to Goose Island at North Avenue will cost $5 one-way.

Wendella marketing and sales manager Gregg Pupecki said the fare increases were calculated before a Feb. 13 proposal from Mayor Rahm Emanuel in which the city will collect a chunk of revenue from the city's tour boat companies — Wendella and Mercury Skyline Yacht Charters — for use of public docks along the Chicago River.

“We haven’t raised prices in a long time. We actually came up with the metrics in pricing before we knew what the current dock fees was going to be,” Pupecki said.

The docking fees proposed by the city are projected to bring in $42.5 million over the life of the 10-year deal, according to the city's estimates. 

Under the proposal, now with the city's committee on licenses and consumer protection, Chicago would receive a cut of the boats' annual gross revenue.

The city estimates the revenue from Mercury would be $1.2 million in 2013, doubling to $2.4 million by 2023. Wendella's operations are expected to produce $877,000 in 2013, rising to $1.2 million by 2023, the city says.

The city fee proposal is expected to go before the City Council at next month's meeting, scheduled for March 13.

About 300,000 use the water taxi service each season.

The 2013 season opens March 16 with the dyeing of the Chicago River for the city’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade. Daily service begins March 18.

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