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Red, Right, Return

Steve McGee: Captain, New York Water Taxi

October 23, 2006

** **Who rides a taxi that’s on the water?**** Mostly commuters who’d rather not take a subway. It’s a lot more pleasant to be on the water-take the scenic route rather than go underground. We try to make it an enjoyable experience, instead of getting on a train and having the door close on your briefcase.

When I think “taxi,” I picture a small boat. Mine is a high-speed catamaran, 55′ long, that holds 73 passengers.

****How high-speed?**** I cruise at 25 mph. It will go faster if I gun it, and with a good current I can reach 32 mph. But I rarely go that fast.

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What’s the price of a ticket? It varies. Between $123 to $200 for a monthly pass.

And for the non-commuter?We have a two-day hop-on/hop-off fare for 11 top sightseeing spots at $25.

You’re not like a land taxi, dropping off passengers anywhere they like? No. I follow a set route. Maybe we should call it a water bus.

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How big is your crew? I have a deckhand in the winter. In the busier summer months there’s a deckhand and a greeter, who sometimes acts as a tour guide.

What time do you start work? Ah, that’s the bad part. I work a lot of mornings, so I get up at about 3 a.m. and I’m at the boat by 4:45. I’m finished by 1 p.m., then a new crew comes on. The last boat stops at about 8:30 p.m.

How did you get into water taxiing? I started driving ferries around 1985. I worked charter for years in Hawaii-lived in Maui for 14 years-then I came back to New York. I hooked up with Water Taxi in 2002.

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What do you do in your spare time?I paint Hudson River scenes. I work from photos or go out on location. It’s a beautiful river.

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