JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The downtown water taxi service is in jeopardy. Action News has learned the current company, SS Marine Taxi, is ready to dock the boats permanently.
Captain Greg Samuel and his wife had a dream 20 years ago to own a business. Ever since, their boats have been carting visitors and locals across the St Johns River.
But Samuel admits they're no longer spring chickens and health issues have really slowed them down -- to the point they're ready to dock the water taxis for good.
"Now it's time to hopefully stay healthy enough to go out and reap some penny until we can't anymore," said Samuel.
He says right now they're eying February 28 as their final day in operation. Action News reached out to the city to find out what will happen then.
"We absolutely don't want to see a lapse in service," said Pam Wilson with JaxParks.
Wilson pulled the files for us and says SS Marine signed a new one-year contract at the end of December for this calendar year. But she says it does contain a clause that will let them out with 30 days notice. So they've already started the process of getting a new company in to take the reigns.
"The river is our city's identity," she said. "It's one of the main things that people identify with the city of Jacksonville so we want to provide as much access to it in a variety of ways as possible."
Samuel says he's hopeful someone will help keep the legacy of his blood, sweat and tears alive. After all, he says it's a service the city has grown to love -- just as much as he's loved providing it.
"After all we've put into this I'd hate to see a disruption in service but, at some point, we have to say this is it," he said.
Here's the catch. The process the city has to go through to chose a new company can be lengthy. The city is trying to move as fast as it can but Wilson says at best, the city won't have a replacement until June. That leaves the possibility of all spring with no way across the water.
Wilson does confirm the city has received word from several companies interested in taking over the service. So the city is confident the water taxis will live on.
The people at SS Marine say they're willing to sell their boats to potential successors.