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City Will Open Bidding For Duck Boats On Schuylkill River

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — City officials are reversing course slightly on their plan to allow the amphibious “duck” tour boats on the Schuylkill River: the process is being opened up to competitive bidding.

“What we’re looking for is the best possible solution for the city of Philadelphia,” says Philadelphia managing director Rich Negrin, who earlier this fall ordered duck tour boats to shift to the Schuylkill River, following last summer’s fatal accident on the Delaware.

Originally it was assumed the “Ride the Ducks” company would simply change venues.  But Negrin realized that any new operation must be put out to bid.

“In an effort to make sure we’re doing things the right way, we’re going to do an RFP (request for proposals),” he said.  “The company has been cooperative through that process.  They understand why we have to do that.”

So other duck boat companies -– and there are a few nationally -– can bid for the rights to conduct tours on the Schuylkill.

Negrin says the bidders must show how the beauty of the river can be preserved even as tour boat rides are added.

“We’re looking for something that doesn’t impact the serenity of the Schuylkill banks and the park area, that really enhances the experience down by the lower Schuylkill, which really is an untapped gem at this point,” he said.

Negrin also says a winning bidder must demonstrate sensitivity to the noise issue, given that duck boat passengers on the Delaware would often use quacking noisemakers during the rides.

The request for proposals does not specify a route for the tour boats.  But Negrin says he feels the lower Schuylkill, the section below the Water Works dam at the art museum, is underutilized and could prove ideal for such an operation.

Negrin hopes to choose a firm by year’s end and to have the tours on the Schuylkill going by next summer’s tourist season.

Two Hungarian tourists died on July 7th of this year when a disabled Ride the Ducks vehicle, stranded in the Delaware River, was rammed by a barge being pushed by a city-operated tug.  Families of both victims are suing, and the NTSB is continuing its investigation.

Reported by KYW City Hall Bureau Chief Mike Dunn.

 

 

Comments

One Comment

  1. tgbusill says:

    “Negrin also says a winning bidder must demonstrate sensitivity to the noise issue, given that duck boat passengers on the Delaware would often use quacking noisemakers during the rides.”

    Wow. I don’t know what amazes me more:
    a) Negrin’s apparent ignorance of the fact that THE CITY CAN PROHIBIT THOSE NOISEMAKERS AS PART OF GRANTING THE CONCESSION

    or

    b) the reporter not asking the obvious follow-up question, “Since noise from the duck boats have long been a constant nuisance to the citizens of Philadelphia, why do you seem to be conceding that the use of noisemakers on the river and city streets HAS TO 100% BE ALLOWED TO HAPPEN?”

    I’m sure that multiple amphibious vehicle tour companies will come out of the woodwork to bid, because companies like wasting their time and sinking money and resources into proposals when high-ranking city officials have already showed preferential treatment to a designated vendor.

    The PA State Attorney General’s Office or some other appropriate body needs to start an full investigation as to whether any of the contact between city officials and their preferred vendor violated state law or ethical guidelines.

    But of course they won’t.

    My feelings on the matter are here:
    http://wp.me/pWFY2-c4

  2. Vic says:

    “What we’re looking for is the best possible solution for the city of Philadelphia,” says Philadelphia managing director Rich Negrin.

    Typical Gov Worker response.

    Wouldn’t a much better response be: ‘“What we’re looking for is the best possible solution for the visitor who buys the ticket.”

    1. absherlock says:

      No, he had it right the first time. Visitors are important, but not more important than the residents. Let the people running the tours worry about their customers.

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