Item Coversheet

New Business and Commission Requests - R9  H


TO:Honorable Mayor and Members of the City Commission 
FROM:Jimmy L. Morales, City Manager 
DATE:October  31, 2017




On October 27, 2017, the Neighborhood/Community Affairs Committee (NCAC) discussed the Water Taxi Pilot Program and whether or not to extend the City’s agreement with the Concessionaire, Water Tax Miami, Inc., for a one-year pilot program (the Agreement), which expires on November 29, 2017. At the meeting, the Committee recommended extending the Agreement with the Concessionaire for one (1) month in order to enable water taxi service during Art Basel; and, further, the NCAC recommended that staff return to NCAC in December with alternative options for operation of a successful waterborne transportation service in the City. 

The Administration recommends extending the Agreement on a month-to-month basis to provide staff time to develop and present operational alternatives to the NCAC and the City Commission.


From an operational perspective, the Concessionaire always had a concern as to the time it would take to ramp-up demand for the water taxi service so that it could be self-sustainable and ultimately profitable.


Periodic site inspections conducted by the Transportation Department staff have determined that the Concessionaire is in violation of various terms of the Agreement including compliance to type of the vessels, on-site monitoring, and schedule.As a result of reported incidents, a Contractor Incident Report was issued to the Concessionaire on July 7, 2017 (Attachment A).Subsequently, given the Concessionaire remained non-compliant with terms of the agreement, a Contractor Notice of Violation was issued to the Concessionaire on August 30, 2017 (Attachment B).While the Concessionaire was found to be in compliance with respect to the type of vessel and service schedule at Purdy Dock, the Concessionaire continues to not provide on-site monitoring and oversight at Purdy Dock.Pursuant to the Agreement, the Concessionaire shall hire an employee to be stationed at or near the Concession Area at Purdy Avenue Dock, whose responsibility is to provide on-site monitoring and oversight of the Pilot Program. The Concessionaire has expressed that the Pilot Program does not provide sufficient revenues to pay for on-site monitoring and oversight and, thus, has refused to provide monitoring and oversight.


The Department of Marketing and Communications has been promoting the water taxi pilot service. These efforts include, but are not limited to, social media advertisement, communications e-blast, MB Magazine, MBTV, and a public service announcement on-board the Miami Beach Trolleys.Water taxi pilot program information was also shared with the Greater Miami and the Beaches Hotel Association and the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau for their dissemination. The water taxi operator has supplemented the City’s promotional efforts by mailing brochures to residents and businesses in the Sunset Harbour neighborhood. Additionally, between mid-August and end of September 2017, the water taxi operator promoted reduced fares of $6 for one-way trips for all Miami-Dade County residents. The City's Department of Marketing and Communications assisted with promoting the reduced fares.


The current agreement with the Concessionaire expires on November 29, 2017.Per the agreement, upon the written request of the Concessionaire at least sixty (60) days prior to the expiration of the initial one year term, the City Commission at its sole and reasonable judgement and discretion can extend the term of the agreement for two (2) additional years.


Currently, the water taxi service is using one of the City's existing docks at Purdy for its operation. The City allocated funding in FY 2016/17 for the design and construction of a dock for motorized vessels and kayak launch at Purdy Avenue Dock (the New Dock).Once constructed, the New Dock for motorized vessels will be used for water taxi operation. The design of the dock has been completed and the City is in the process of securing the environmental permits in order to issue a bid for the construction of the dock, with a contract award anticipated within the next six (6) months. Once construction is completed, the Administration recommends that a new competitive solicitation be issued for commuter-based public waterborne transportation services.


It is worth noting that the County is currently working on updating a 2006 feasibility study on regional waterborne transportation solutions, including a plan for on-demand and fixed-route waterborne transportation.At this time, however, the timeline for completion of the County’s feasibility study and a potential solicitation for such services has not been determined.




On April 30, 2016, the City Commission adopted Resolution No. 2016-29370 approving a water taxi pilot program (pursuant to ITN No. 2014-326-JR) with Water Taxi Miami, Inc. (Concessionaire) for a term of one (1) year serving the Purdy Avenue Dock, Sea Isle Marina, Bayside Marketplace, and Miami Beach Marina. Similar to ITN specifications, the water taxi service was to operate at no cost to the City. The service operates Friday through Sunday of every week, subject to weather conditions. The limited days of operation, service frequency, and fare structure were established by the Concessionaire and approved by the City Commission. Given the City’s goal to provide commuter based waterborne transportation service, the limited pilot service was proffered by Concessionaire as a means to test the service and build ridership in advance of a permanent commuter-based service. Attachment C depicts the water taxi route, schedule, and service cost.

Pursuant to an operating agreement, Water Taxi Miami commenced special event service for Art Basel 2016 from December 1 through December 3, 2016 as part of the approved High Impact Events Plan of Operation approved by the City under the Agreement. During Art Basel 2016, water taxi service was provided to 253 passengers who used the service to travel between Miami Beach and Miami.  The pilot program for limited water taxi service operating Friday – Sunday of every week commenced on Friday, December 30, 2016. Therefore, during Quarter 1 of Fiscal Year 2017 (FY17), limited water taxi service operated only on December 30 and December 31, 2017 and no tickets were sold at the Purdy Avenue Dock during those two (2) days.  


During Quarter 2 of FY17, 78 tickets were sold at Purdy Avenue Dock. The total number of passenger boardings at Purdy Avenue Dock was 79 and the total number of passenger disembarking at Purdy Avenue Dock was 154.  The majority of the passengers boarding at Purdy Avenue Dock (74 out of 79) had Bayside Marketplace as their destination.  The majority of the passengers who disembarked at Purdy Avenue Dock (152 out of 154) originated from Bayside Marketplace.  The total number of passengers using water taxi service during the second quarter of FY17 was 233.


During Quarter 3 of FY17, 38 tickets were sold at Purdy Avenue Dock. The total number of passenger boardings at Purdy Avenue Dock was 38 and the total number of passengers disembarking at Purdy Avenue Dock was 79.  The majority of the passengers boarding at Purdy Avenue Dock (36 out of 38) had Bayside Marketplace as their destination.  All passengers who disembarked at Purdy Avenue Dock originated from Bayside Marketplace.  The total number of passengers using water taxi service during the 3rd Quarter of FY17 traveling to or from Purdy Avenue Dock was 117.


During Quarter 4 of FY17, only 27 tickets were sold at Purdy Avenue Dock.


The total number of passengers boarding at Purdy Avenue Dock as part of the Water Taxi Pilot Program from December 30, 2016 to September 30, 2017  is 144.


This item is being presented to City Commission for discussion and further direction.

Ensure Comprehensive Mobility Addressing All Modes Throughout The City


Per the Agreement, the Concessionaire is required to pay the City a surcharge per ticket sold at Purdy Avenue Dock for the water taxi service. Based on the total number of tickets sold at Purdy Avenue Dock pursuant to the water taxi pilot program, the Concessionaire is subject to a $638.75 total surcharge during Quarters 1, 2, 3, and 4. The Transportation Department has been invoicing the Concessionaire on a quarterly basis.
Legislative Tracking

Attachment A
Attachment B
Attachment C