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Floating Bus Line Could Be Cruising Up Delaware River Soon

The three Water Link vessels docked in the Delaware River, with the USS Olympia in background.  (Credit: Pat Loeb)

The three Water Link vessels docked in the Delaware River, with the USS Olympia in background. (Credit: Pat Loeb)

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By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A trio of shuttle boats, in storage for almost ten years, may soon be plying the Delaware River. The Waterfront Corporation has won Coast Guard approval to operate the boats for tourists.

The William Penn, the Ben Franklin and the Stephen Girard constitute the “Water Link,” a long-postponed plan to let more people experience the Delaware on the water. They were purchased in 2003 by the now-defunct Penn’s Landing Corporation, which never even put them in the water. Its successor, the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation, pulled them out of dry dock at Pier 9, about two months ago, says vice president Joe Forkin.

“They were really well-preserved, so we changed the hoses this year and got everything up to speed and then, when we put them in the river they performed really well, so we’re really happy.”

Forkin cautions that it’s still very early in the process. There’s no schedule, yet, and no budget.

“I think they’re cool, I think they’ll be well-received. Whether or not there’s enough mass in passengers to ride them for next season, we’re really looking into that now.”

The boats are part of the Waterfront Corporation’s master plan. Forkin says it calls for “animating the river” with more passenger boats.

“We had these assets, these vessels and now at the completion of our master plan we see the opportunity to reincorporate them into a transportation network on the river.”

Each boat holds 22 passengers, but Forkin says there’s a lot of fundraising and logistics before they officially launch.

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