Harbor Water Taxi is Out Of Service – Until Further Notice
Last summer, the U.S. Coast Guard informed the Port District that Santa Cruz Harbor’s water taxi service did not comply with current Coast Guard regulations for small passenger vessels and the water taxi operation was immediately taken out of service.
Over the past year, with assistance from Congressman Jimmy Panetta, staff has worked with the U.S. Coast Guard to share information about the water taxi operation and evaluate whether the water taxi is indeed subject to USCG requirements for small passenger vessels. The provisions would have required a Certificate of Inspection and annual vessel inspections, and operation by USCG licensed captains and crew. The shift to a certificated vessel, for an operation that had a perfect safety record over 24 years of service, threatened to end this free public program.
The Officer in Charge of Marine Inspections at Sector San Francisco has determined that the Santa Cruz Harbor water taxi is not required to come into regulations as an inspected vessel.
The water taxi must continue to have all required safety equipment aboard the vessel, and the Port District will continue to ensure operators receive rigorous in-house training to ensure the safety of passengers and crew.
While this is welcome news, due to COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders, social distancing requirements and associated budget impacts, the Santa Cruz Harbor’s free water taxi service is not likely to begin operations again until next summer.
Please contact the Harbormaster’s office for updated information at (831) 475-6161.