Manatee County announces the launch of a water taxi service, linking downtown Bradenton with Anna Maria Island, starting December 8, 2023. This new mode of transportation offers a direct, traffic-free travel option for residents and visitors. With the goal to ease the often congested roads, especially during the busy tourist season, this service marks a significant shift in the area’s approach to transportation challenges.
The Gulf Islands Ferry, operated by Gulf Coast Water Taxi, will utilize two 50-foot open-air catamarans, the Miss Anna Maria and Downtown Duchess, to ferry passengers. These boats will operate from Friday through Sunday, between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m., offering hourly rides. The service will initially include stops at the Anna Maria City Pier and Bridge Street Pier, with plans to expand to Coquina Beach in early 2024 and potentially to Longboat Key and downtown Sarasota.
The ferry aims to alleviate the area’s notorious traffic and parking issues, particularly for beach-goers. The service, aside from its convenience, is also an eco-friendly initiative. Powered by renewable energy sources, the catamarans are part of the Bureau’s commitment to preserve the local environment. This aligns with the “Love It Like a Local” initiative, which promotes sustainable tourism practices.
The ferries can carry up to 49 passengers, and the journey takes approximately 35 minutes. Ticket prices are set at $8 for adults, with discounts available for seniors and children. The project, funded by tourist bed taxes, represents a significant investment in the region’s infrastructure.
Bradenton Mayor Gene Brown expressed enthusiasm about the project’s potential impact: “What is really worth tourist dollars something like this not only to help the multimodal transportation to get off the roads and show where it’s sustainable, so this is a 7-week process.”
Local businesses anticipate a boost in foot traffic and customer visits, thanks to the new service. This sentiment is shared by many in the community, who see the water taxi as a catalyst for economic growth and enhanced connectivity between the mainland and the island.
Click here for tickets and schedules.