Water Taxi


Massive new construction
is being erected all along Portland’s North and South waterfronts, as well as the Convention Center Hotel and Vancouver’s new Waterfront project.


How will these people get around? Is it time for a Water Taxi?


1. Zidell Yards (South Waterfront)


For decades, the 33 acres at the western base of the Ross Island Bridge harbored Zidell’s barge business. But on June 16, 2016, the family launched its last barge, clearing the way for a massive development in Portland’s South Waterfront neighborhood.


Their sweeping proposal calls for 2,200 residential units, 1.5 million square feet of office space, a grocery store, a retail anchor, restaurants, parking, a 200-room hotel, three parks, a public plaza and a waterfront greenway that includes recreational access to the Willamette River. Initial construction is slated to start in fall 2018. They expect to open the first buildings two years later.


2. Slabtown and Field Office (North Waterfront)


With much of the Pearl District built out, developers are looking to the northwest. What was once (and in some cases still is) a gritty stretch at the base of the Fremont Bridge is undergoing a spate of new development.


Two six-story buildings were completed in March. A 14-story residential tower is taking shape down the block from a New Seasons Market. Cairn Pacific continues work on the Slabtown blocks, where Con-Way once operated its freight business.


3. Convention Center Hotel (near the waterfront)


Nearly three decades after the Convention Center opened, it’s finally getting a hotel. The 600-room Hyatt Regency in Northeast Portland broke ground Aug. 4, 2017 and is expected to open in 2019.


4. Waterfront Vancouver


This $1.5 billion mixed-use development will transform and usher in the next chapter for the entire metropolitan Vancouver/Portland area. At full build-out, the master plan proposes 3,300 new residential units, over 1.25 million square feet of Class A creative office space, a boutique hotel, flagship restaurants, and unique retail spaces.


The first buildings opening in Summer 2018. PHASE 1 includes 40,000 square feet of restaurant space – Grant Street Pier, 5-6 signature restaurants, 45,000 square feet of ground floor retail, and approximately 270 apartment units – (Blocks 6 and 8), 138 room Hotel Indigo and 40 condominiums – (Block 4).


Washington Gov. Jay Inslee says the future of transportation will be in Seattle. The state, which has the country’s largest ferry system, set aside $600,000 in its 2018 state transportation budget to research how to convert ferries from diesel to hybrid electric propulsion.


Three ferries are being proposed for conversion to hybrid electric propulsion, the Tacoma, Wenatchee and Puyallup, which serve the Seattle-Bainbridge and Edmonds-Kingston runs, with 202 vehicle and 1,500 passenger capacity each.


Guess who’s the pioneer in hybrid electric tugboats … Oregon’s Foss Maritime in Rainier. Foss tugs use a combination of batteries, generators and main engines … much like a Prius.


Foss built the first hybrid/electric tug, the Carolyn Dorothy, and followed up with the Campbell Foss tug in 2012. The clients were the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, California. Their major motivation was to reduce carbon emissions, but the electric motors are quieter and use less diesel.

Vancouver could be THE regional transportation hub. The Port of Vancouver is ideally positioned for an Air Taxi hub. Easy access to freeways and trains. Quick jump to the airport, UPS, FedEX and Amazon.


Uber will roll out their Sky Taxis in Los Angeles, Dallas and Dubai as early as 2020. But costs will decrease quickly, with the cost of electric trucks expected to reach cost parity with their diesel counterparts by 2025.


Electric powered E-VTOLs made by Uber, Airbus and Boeing are fast, quiet, and don’t need a pilot. Airbus is testing a pilotless air taxi in Pendleton.

ChargePoint, the world’s leading electric vehicle charging network, has designed a two megawatt, fast charger for electric aircraft and semi trucks like Daimler’s e-truck. Good for e-boats, too.

Bottom Line:

Trimet’s stated Operating cost per passenger-mile: $0.51
Real cost per passenger-mile (ignoring Federal $): $0.84
AirTaxi cost per passenger-mile (long term): $0.44

A hybridized water taxi might be just the ticket for everyone.