2030 Goal: Integrated transit on land and water

David Wilson

Our water taxi network should be better connected to our traditional transit network.

By enhancing and connecting riverfront trails, water taxi service, adjacent bus and rail stations, bike lanes, and sidewalks, people will be able to more easily explore our rivers and riverfront neighborhoods.

Every water taxi stop connects to existing CTA rail or bus, commuter rail or Divvy.

Water taxis are a viable transportation option for those willing to sacrifice some speed for the experience of boating to their destination. For some trips, a river route is the most direct. New water taxi stations at strategic locations will serve increasing demand, and riverfront residential and commercial developments will be encouraged to add water taxi service if feasible.

2.9 million trips cross over or under one of Chicago's rivers via road or rail on an average weekday

To promote water taxi use, routes and stations (and the rivers themselves) should be included in regional transit maps, vehicle tracker applications, integrated fare systems such as Ventra, and even onboard transit announcements. (”Now crossing the Chicago River, transfer here to water taxi.”) Likewise, signs at river trail access points should point to and from commuter rail stations.

Adding Divvy stations near river trail access points, employment hubs and major destinations would serve one-way commuters and last-mile transit needs, while increasing riverfront use. As other multi-use trails are created, such as The 606 and El Paseo, we should seek to connect them with the rivers whenever possible.

Making it happen

  • Integrate water taxi service into Ventra, transit system maps, on-board announcements, schedules and system planning.
  • Add infill water taxi stations at Grand Avenue on the North Branch and Roosevelt Road on the South Branch of the Chicago River.
  • Examine the longer-term feasibility of expanding water taxi service south from Ping Tom Park on the Chicago River, and on the Calumet River.
  • Explore the feasibility of adding Divvy stations near key riverfront sites.

Key players

Water taxi operators, Chicago Dept. of Transportation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Coast Guard, Chicago Harbor Safety Committee, Chicago Dept. of Planning and Development, Chicago Transit Authority, Metra, Pace, Regional Transportation Authority, Divvy, Ill. Dept. of Transportation

Our rivers, our role

  • Try commuting by water taxi to determine if that’s a feasible option for you.
  • Take note of all the times you cross over or under one of Chicago’s rivers in a day, a week, a month. You’ll be surprised how frequent it is!

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