The unmistakable yellow of the Chicago Water Taxi has returned to the Chicago River after shutting down at the beginning of the pandemic.
They’re still working to get ridership back to where it once was.
For people who work downtown, there are plenty of ways to get to the office – by foot, car, train, bus, or boat.
If you opt for the Chicago Water Taxi, there’s a good chance Doug Chyna might be your captain. He has been captaining the Chicago River for more than 20 years.
“When I go on land, I get sick,” he said.
But the iconic yellow boats have been missing from the Chicago River for the past several years.
“When COVID hit, everything got shut down,” Chyna said.
“We’re trying to get ridership back up so we can start running this again full-time,” Chyna said.
The Chicago Water Taxi currently runs only a fraction of its original service.
“Pre-COVID, we were extremely busy. We went to Michigan Avenue, Madison Street, Clark and LaSalle, Riverwalk, Chinatown,” Chyna said.
Until ridership picks up, you can only take the Water Taxi between Michigan Avenue and Madison Street.
“Slow but sure. Rome wasn’t built in a day. We have to build up the taxi service again,” Chyna said.
He doesn’t seem too worried about it.
“You know what? Every day, I’m getting one or two more people. I’m getting more and more,” he said.
The passengers are primarily commuters or people looking to escape the office for lunch or a break.
“It’s relaxing because the city from the lake is absolutely gorgeous. You know, so if you’re getting stressed out in the office, hop on the boat for a ride for a couple times, then go deal with it,” Chyna said.
The Chicago Water Taxi runs Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays during the morning and afternoon rush. You can find a complete schedule at chicagowatertaxi.com.
Chyna said expanded service to Chinatown might be just around the riverbend.