Waterway Cruisers

Posted by Woodlands Traveler on January 27, 2012 in Woodlands Waterway |

The Woodlands Waterway Cruisers

The Waterway Cruisers, previously known as the Waterway Taxis and sometimes humorously referred to as “Nelda’s Navy” were recently overhauled but might still be taking on water. After some 3 years of service, the Woodlands Boats have received some much needed updates to both the interior and exterior surfaces. The question is will these efforts help to increase the annual ridership.

Hours of operation have been reduced, down from an average 6,814.5 hours in 2008 and 2009 to 4,500 hours in 2010 and 4,400 hours in 2011. In 2012 the hours have been cut once again by some 2,200 hours limiting operations to weekends and 25 holiday and event related weekdays. This change should show some improvement in the averages as more than 80% of the ridership took place during the weekends in 2011.

Waterway Cruiser

The Waterway Cruisers were losing some $240,000 a year in 2009 forcing a need to make the cuts thereby making the Woodlands Boats more cost-effective. The (then Waterway Taxis) were initially owned and operated by a private company who sold the boats to The Woodlands Development Company while they were operated by “The District” (previously the Brazos Transit District). “We never wanted to be a water taxi operator,” said  Alex Sutton, then co-president of The Woodlands Development Company and member of the township board. “We stepped in to help out.”

Waterway Cruiser Maintenance

The Crusiers began their journey in 2008 which incidentally is the same year that their greatest ridership occurred with some 53,408 riders (nearly 8 riders per hour). Ridership in 2009 was at 44,238 falling to 6 and  a half per hour followed by a slight increase to more than 7 per hour in 2010 with 33,989 total riders. The 2011 season clocked in at 27,563 riders dropping to an all time low of right at 6 riders per hour, including a slight uptick in riders at the end of the year.

The Township bought the Waterway boats in early 2011 and the renovations were implemented in August of the same year, as well as the construction of the new location for storage and maintenance of the cruisers. Total cost for the removal, restoration and return of the six Waterway Cruisers was approximately $40,000 per boat including the complete refurbishment of interiors, exteriors and hull, and repair or replacement of a number of mechanical functions on each boat as required. 2011 was also the year that the cruisers were all renamed – The Cynthia, The George, The Lone Star, The Puffy, The Waterway and The Dreamer. The last name was originally “The Woodlands” but was later changed to reflect the outdoor sculpture and became “The Dreamer.”  The names were intended to liken the boats to offer a differ net experience as well as educate riders regarding the history of The Woodlands. The Cruisers are now open to dinner cruises with food catered by Landry’s Seafood Restaurant and advertising opportunities / sponsorships on them is hoped to help pay for operating costs.


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