Erie’s Port Authority won’t provide water taxi service this summer

For the fourth straight year, the Erie-Western Pennsylvania Port Authority will not offer its water taxi service that shuttles people across Presque Isle Bay.

Martin LaMar, the Port Authority’s executive director, confirmed that the authority was unable to find an operator for the service.

The Aquabus II water taxi, seen in this file photo, is one of two water taxis owned by the Erie-Western Pennsylvania Port Authority.

“No other reasons,” LaMar said.

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Water taxi service started in 2000 as a way for tourists and residents to travel between the city and Presque Isle State Park. Service typically has started each June and run through October.

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The Port Authority owns two water taxis. However, the service last operated in 2019.

The authority has struggled to find a private operator for the service in recent years, primarily because operators must hold a captain’s license issued by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Capt. Norman Schlosser, who retired in 2016 and held such a license, operated the service on behalf of the Port Authority for 17 years.

The authority’s agreement with the taxi service’s last operator, Presque Isle Boat tours, expired in 2019. The company, owned by Erie businessman Tim Sedney, was not interested in a renewal.

The water taxi did not operate in 2020 and 2021 primarily because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Port Authority has solicited bids over the years for new operators but has drawn little interest.

Operators in the past have also been required to provide general liability and contractual liability insurance regarding the service, and workers' compensation coverage if necessary.

Contact Kevin Flowers at Follow him on Twitter at @ETNflowers.

This article originally appeared on Erie Times-News: Erie's Port Authority won't operate a water taxi this summer. Here's why.