Harbor Water Taxi Status
The U.S. Coast Guard has informed the Harbormaster that Santa Cruz Harbor’s water taxi service does not comply with current Coast Guard regulations. The water taxi, FreeRide I, is now 52 years old. Because of its advanced age, the Port Commission authorized funding for a replacement vessel in the current FY20 budget.
US Coast Guard Sector San Francisco – Department of Homeland Security has confirmed the required vessel standards, annual inspection and certification requirements, staff licensing and training requirements, and that the “passenger for hire” exemption we relied upon is no longer applicable to the harbor’s water taxi service. Because the water taxi operation does not meet current standards, it was immediately taken out of service.
We’ve learned that the new requirements may be challenging and time consuming to implement, and beyond what the Commission budgeted. However, the Port Commission and staff are committed to carefully reviewing and understanding the requirements, costs and options, and considering both interim and long-term solutions that may be available.
We will keep the harbor community updated on what we learn about the regulations and options that may be available, and opportunities for users and stakeholders to participate in the process.
Please contact the Harbormaster’s office for updated information at (831) 475-6161.