Wild A## Wednesday: New London Water Taxi

Trying something new here Wild A## Wednesday. The concept is basically crazy ideas I have about something most of these will be business ideas or infrastructure comments or maybe a cool boat design. Basically it’s something I have put too much thought into not to share with somebody else. So for our inaugural post I present my concept for a New London CT Water taxi service.

So I often go to New London during the summer, as my family keeps their boat at Thames yacht club. I also used to work in Waterford CT and used to spend many lunch hours walking along New London’s waterfront. One of the things I noticed is that New London is kind of cut apart by the railroad tracks and Shaws cove. You have a very nice downtown area with restaurants, art galleries, some shopping, a train station, and ferry terminal.   Than you have  a the south end of town with older homes, a college, waterfront condos and the majority of the boat slips and marinas in town,  and also we can’t forget the beaches. Basically I think the city needs an affordable way to link these two sections together.

So when I first came up with this concept I thought about a tram/trolley (lightrail) what have you. I still think this would be ideal but politically, financially and practically, well impossible. As you can see in the map below (red line) the tram could be run with some ease thru the water side of downtown but as you round Shaws cove you would need to find alternate routing to get the tram to ocean beach which I think is the only way it would make sense.

tram map

 

When I came up with this thought I also thought about a water taxi mainly because it requires a minimum of infrastructure. But there are limitations on weather etc. Than I read a document prepared by Yale Urban Design Workshop  . They were looking at a way to connect the Fort Trumbull area (the area just south of Shaw cove) to Downtown. There preferred method to do this would be a walkway extending across the entrance to the cove, but since this is used as access for sailboats to the cove this would present some interesting challenges (pedestrian lift bridge or build a structure off the existing railroad bridge). They than purposed a water taxi could also be used as a connection. This got me rethinking on the subject.

New London as with most coastal towns rarely experiences icing on the Thames river so really the operation could run year round with the exception of severe weather events. Also most of the routes that could be run would be in fairly protected water provided that the boats are designed with year round operation in mind. So I than thought about what would be required.

The biggest advantage is that this could be accomplished with little infrastructure costs. In fact looking at similar systems around the world it appears it could be mostly be accomplished in the private rather than public arena. Systems like the False Creek Ferry system in Vancouver. There are also a number of systems in the North East in places like Newport RI, Fire island NY, and Boston. If the town could agree to a minimal cost to have a landing in downtown and one in Fort Trumbull and another one at Mitchell College, most of these docks already exist and could be simply upgraded to work for this system. I would propose the system has a scheduled loop of stops with the option of stopping at private docks for say people with boats at one of the marinas.

I think this would allow for the basic start of a water taxi system that would provide for a low cost public transit with minimal public funding. The system would be subject to possible problems with weather etc but hopefully the correct boats could help limit this.

park-map

In the future the system could be expanded easily. I believe most of the profit potential would come after the expansion. My first thought for expansion would be to extend the system to Ocean beach. This would be the most technically challenging part of the system as a dock system and possibly a break water would need to be built in the western end of Ocean Beach. So this may need to wait.d several points in the Groton water front for basically nothing. The line could also be extended north to Norwich with little trouble, the real reason to extend the line north would be a connection to the casinos but here again some infrastructure would need to be upgraded but hopefully some of those costs could be handled by handled by the Casinos.

New london water taxi

New london water taxi

All in all I think the system could be completed with limited resources. The project just needs the will and the right people.

About Colin

Short Bio. I have worked in the marine industry since I was 15 with the exception of a brief stint working on cars and RV's.
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