New Water Taxi Hopes to Generate Buzz

By Michael David Burke
Star News

Wilmington Water Tours has launched the start of its newest business, a water taxi service that Capt. Doug Springer hopes will eventually serve all of the Cape Fear River around Wilmington.

The business has been dubbed Beeline and the first of its boats, The Busy Bee, began running June 27.  The 31 passenger boat costs $8 for adults, $4 for children between 3 and 12 years old, and free for children younger than 3.  It operates from the foot of Market Street and leaves every 15 minutes, taking passengers to the Battleship North Carolina and Chandler’s Wharf before returning to Market Street.

The Bizzy Bee is the only water taxi serving downtown Wilmington, and Springer envisions a business that will one day serve a larger territory.

To expand his service, Springer said he has received interest from nearby communities, including Belville, Carolina Beach, Leland and Navassa.  He said he could provide small business owners in those areas with either a single water taxi – a “Bee” – or what he’s calling a “Hive”, a number of boats to serve one specific area.

Every boat will be given a name related to bees.  The “Bee” in Beeline stands for “Building the Economic Engine,” and Springer expects to build and keep building.  Ultimately, he said he desires to have 20 boats serving the area.

“This company, it’s designed to grow,” he said.


Wilmington Water Tours at the Helm of New Water Taxi Service

BizzyBeeBoatWithLogoWilmington Water Tours has launched a new venture, its captain said.  The local river tour and cruise company has begun offering water taxi service that links downtown Wilmington and the Battleship North Carolina, according to Wilmington Water Tours co-owner and Capt. Doug Springer.  The new service, called Beeline, will start with one boat, he said.

Terry Bragg, executive director of the Battleship North Carolina, said Tuesday that his organization looks forward to working with Beeline.

The Bizzy Bee is a 31-foot passenger boat, purchased from a water taxi company in Buffalo, New York.  As business grows, Beeline will add boats, each of which will have a bee-themed name, according to Springer.

Growth of the service is definitely on Springer’s agenda.  He hopes to be able to add a stop on the northern Riverfront when the marina and other commercial development is complete there.  He has also talked with other communities in the area about expanding the water taxi to serve them.

“The vision is that one day you will be able to fly into our airport and then be shuttled to board a water taxi.  From the water you will have access to Wilmington, Navassa, Leland, Belville, Eagles Island, Carolina Beach, Southport and other river landings throughout the basin,” Springer said.

“The business model we are using is a consulting model that will allow us to set up others in business that may want a “bee” of their own or even a “hive” to serve a specific area,” he explained.  “My desire is not to run 20 boats, but instead to see 20 boats serving our area.”

Meanwhile, Bragg said he is excited at the opportunities to showcase the Battleship’s growing assets to those who visit by water taxi.  Once a permanent cofferdam is built around the ship to provide access to the hull for repairs, a universally accessible walkway and a larger dock will be constructed.  A new nature trail is also in the works to allow Battleship visitors to explore an adjacent portion of Eagles Island.

Beeline is operating the taxi service from 9am to 8pm daily, Springer said.