Miami-Miami Beach ferry service ‘at one-yard line’
Poseidon Ferry LLC, soon to offer daily waterborne commuter transportation between Miami and Miami Beach, will officially launch with an evening Music Cruise on Nov. 6, said CEO Johnathan Silva. The company’s core business, commuter service – still in the doldrums of permitting – should follow soon. “We’re at the one-yard line right now,” he said.
Water transit has been a long time coming to Miami, said Irene Hegedus, chief of transportation enhancements for the county’s Department of Transportation & Public Works, who has been working with Mr. Silva and the cities of Miami and Miami Beach to make it a reality.
“Studies made in 2003 and 2004 recommended it,” she said, “and then we didn’t have the density we have now. We still don’t know exactly when it will be deployed, but it will be soon. It’s really exciting. “Construction on the signature bridge and the reconstruction of 395 will make traffic between Miami and Miami Beach a nightmare. We want to improve mobility and reduce congestion. It’s all about quality of life: People need choices, and this will be one of the choices.”
Unlike earlier proposals, Ms. Hegedus said, Poseidon offers commuters one-way trips across the bay for an affordable $3, comparable to the current $2.65 fare for Metrobus – and it’s 100% privately funded.
The Music Cruise – a 2½-hour moonlit trip boarding at 9 p.m. and departing at 9:30 p.m. from the ferry’s Miami dock on the Miami River Bay Walk – will not only introduce passengers to the ferry but will serve as a trial run for crew members, now numbering about 25, Mr. Silva said.
Tickets for the Music Cruise are $30. Space is limited due to Covid-19 restrictions; masks are required.
Riverside residents worried about noise pollution are assured, Ms. Hegedus said, that the music won’t start until the vessel has cleared the mouth of the river.
Music cruises may eventually become regular weekend events that would help defray maintenance expenses and keep fares affordable for weekday commuters.
Poseidon’s commuter service is to begin with hourly trips between Miami and Miami Beach, expanding to 20-minute intervals as ridership grows. The vessel will dock on the Miami River Bay Walk, directly outside the river entrance to the James L. Knight Convention Center/Hyatt Regency Hotel, with parking available at the convention center’s parking garage, 200 SE Second Ave. Tickets can be purchased at a ticket window in the Hyatt’s lobby or onboard the vessel.
On the Miami Beach side, the proposed ferry dock is the Bentley Bay Marina, with parking available at nearby public lots.
While leisure activity is rising in the waterborne transportation industry as people want to get out into the open air again, Mr. Silva said, “the commuter end has taken a hit. The challenge is to get people back into a daily routine after months of working from home.”
The safety of Poseidon Ferry passengers and crew, he said, “is our top priority.”
For the duration of the pandemic, passenger count is limited to 50% of the vessel’s overall capacity. Masks are mandatory for all staff and passengers, and staffers are required to submit to daily screenings before reporting to duty.
All high-touch surfaces and restrooms will be disinfected after each trip as well as while underway when needed, and high-intensity fog sanitizing will be done nightly throughout the entire vessel and in ticket offices. Hand-sanitizing stations are available throughout the vessel and within the offices. Passenger queuing lines are set up for social distancing.
Once the opening date for commuting is set, Director of Marketing Mary Mendes says, an extensive promotional campaign is ready to go, including advertising and placing brochures in 44 Miami Beach hotels.
“I have been working since February 2019 to get this going,” Mr. Silva said. “There are a lot of moving parts. We are a member of the Passenger Vessel Association, whose guidelines we follow. Then there are local, federal and Coast Guard regulations.
“Now our captains and crews are in training, and we are getting a lot of positive responses. We’re excited to be launching and looking forward to being up and running for the community.”