MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) — It started as one of the more innovative ideas to a serious traffic problem. With cars lining up along Miami and Miami Beach’s urban core for Art Basel, why not avoid the traffic by taking a boat?
Rachel Johnson, an Uber spokesperson, explained, “This is something that hasn’t been tried before to actually create an alternative way for people to get around.”
For $35, you and five of your friends could ride in style across Biscayne Bay with Uber drivers taking you to and from art shows via SUV’s and luxury yachts. The service is available exclusively in areas surrounding the art shows.
“I think it’s very smart,” Miami Beach’s former mayoral candidate Steve Berke thought.
He was one of the first users Thurday. “The traffic during Art Basel is terrible. I found out Uber Boat had a promotion to take across the bay without being stuck in traffic. I’m like let’s go,” Berke said.
Instead of traffic, he spent hours on his phone trying to request a boat.
It turns out Miami-Dade county had other plans for the innovative concept. Boats were kept offshore at the Miami dock. In fact, the dock was held offshore. Miami Dade’s Department of Environmental Resources Management, commonly referred to as DERM, shut down Uber Boats because Uber didn’t have a permit for the dock.
The dock, linked up at a construction site owned by the Related Group, had been deemed an illegal structure. DERM had warned Related Group to remove the dock and another structure related to their sales center last month. Uber dismissed it as a misunderstanding.
“It figures. Miami-Dade trying to be a party-pooper,” Berke said upon hearing about why the launch was delayed.
This is the latest chapter in long-standing feud between the county and the ride-sharing company.
Uber operates without county licenses or permits because Miami-Dade taxi drivers hold them all. Despite plenty of debates to fix the situation, the county has issued millions in tickets each time Uber is caught driving a passenger.
In a scramble, Uber managed to find an alternative dock a few blocks away at Sea Isles Marina. If the alternative location holds up, Uber Boats will run through the weekend.
To see if it’s working your best bet is to check the APP.