Taylor Lewis has spent a lifetime on the water, playing on the docks of Sausalito as a child, running mega-yachts as an adult. The youngest boy in a family of sailors, it was only natural he’d eventually carve his nautical niche.
On Thursday, he fired the engines of his mid-sized boat and gracefully maneuvered out of Sausalito’s harbor, heading toward San Francisco and a place in its maritime history.
Lewis and his company, Tideline Marine Group, are launching San Francisco’s first on-demand water taxi service. The new business will provide dock-to-dock service for passengers looking for a different sort of a transportation system.
“It’s an efficient way to get from two points,” said Lewis as he cruised along San Francisco’s Embarcadero. “We’re really trying to redefine how people see the bay.”
On Tuesday, San Francisco’s Port Commission approved landing rights for Tideline and the San Francisco Water Taxi Company, which will offer a schedule-based, hop-on hop-off style of service along the waterfront. The port gave the two companies use of three docks including South Beach Harbor near AT & T Park, Pier 1 ½ and the Hyde Street Pier.
Lewis is currently running one boat but expects to expand to three in the next few months. He’s also securing landing permits with other cities like Sausalito and Tiburon, and eventually hopes to offer services like water excursions to the wine country.
“The idea of water taxis has been around a long time,” said Lewis. “Historically San Francisco had a lot of small boat traffic to move around the bay.”
Lewis envisions carrying passengers to Giants games, restaurant outings and nightlife. He also expects to transport visitors from mega-yachts into San Francisco during next year’s America’s Cup Yacht race. The cabs will run until 3am for the late night crowd.
Passengers will be able to book Tideline’s water taxis by phone or by using its new smartphone application that will allow people to see the taxis’ locations.
He said the rates are comparable with a regular old street cab, and that people can split the fare with their other passengers.
“We’re here for the people who live in the area and might want to get to a different point of the city or the North Bay in a different manner,” Lewis said.