Waterways offer avenue for transit reform  

Ferries could play a larger role in a more sustainable transport system.

In the days of old Cayman, waterways provided an important resource to facilitate travel. Trips to visit a neighbour or to run errands were often conducted by catboat rather than car.

While those times have long passed, the concept of promoting water-based travel hasn’t entirely faded.

Ronnie Anglin, owner of Cayman Ferries, says he would like to see a future where marine travel complements land-based travel, but the concept hasn’t been easy to get off the ground.

Part of the issue is the island’s love affair with cars, he says. Another barrier comes down to logistics – establishing a set ferry schedule and identifying the stops that commuters or travellers would best utilise.

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Right now, his North Sound service, which runs between Camana Bay, Kaibo and Rum Point, has been reduced to operation only on Saturdays. The absence of tourists on island has temporarily rendered daily service unsustainable.

With his tourist-oriented bus company also sitting idle, however, he has had time to think creatively about the future.

If the interest and government support were there, he sees the potential to create a transportation system that connects land with sea. Riders would be able to transfer conveniently from bus to water taxi to arrive at their destinations. Payments would be made by swipe card or through a monthly plan. Routes could be planned and tracked online.

Rather than sitting in traffic jams on the road, riders could spend their commute staring out at the sea.

“What I would suggest is some kind of polling of people from all districts to say, ‘If you had this service, would you use it? What do you feel would be a fair price to pay for it? Would you make a commitment to buying a pass?’” Anglin said.

For tourists, The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman general manager Marc Langevin says he would like to see a ferry service that allows visitors to tour the island from a coastal perspective. Cayman’s canals, for example, offer an untapped resource where tourists could enjoy nature while discovering some of the island’s most beautiful waterfront properties.

For water transportation to catch on with locals or tourists, Anglin added that operators would need to ensure comfort, speed, convenience and reliability.

Providing a water-taxi service is included among the suggestions outlined by the Department of Planning’s ‘Plan Cayman’ and in recently released recommendations by the Strategic Economic Advisory Council.

Plan Cayman suggests water taxis as an option for commuters to reduce congestion in roadways and to ease access to popular points on island.

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  1. There actually is a river bus service along the Hillsborough River in Tampa. It picks up at fixed points along the river, terminating in downtown Tampa.
    But how would that work in Grand Cayman? A water bus could certainly go along the west coast with drop off in George Town, but how would it get to Caymana Bay, where so many people work? A moving walkway perhaps?

  2. We own a condo in a resort in the East End. We love that currently we and our guests can take a water taxi to Camana Bay from Rum Point, however, it would be much more convenient if there was a pick up point right at our resort. I believe the water taxi would get used much more often if it was easier to attain.

  3. This is a great idea. Look to Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada for an excellent analogue. The city has a ferry services which are incorporated into their public transit system.

    If you ran North Sound ferries between West Bay, Camana Bay, Georgetown and Kaibo, with bus stops at the docks (and park and ride areas for cars) this could be very effective.