Best Public Transportation (2006)

Water Taxi

Yes, it's recently been unmasked as a bloated private company that drains big bucks from the public coffers. Yes, it's really just a fleet of glorified tugboats catering to the fat wallets of beached tourists. Yes, one ride up the Intracoastal will set you back ten whole kahunas. But let's admit it: Despite its flaws, Fort Lauderdale's Water Taxi is still the coolest way for nonmillionaires to get around Broward County. Unlike the Tri-Rail, it actually comes on time and stops within walking distance of destinations, not empty parking lots in office parks. And unlike land-bound buses, Water Taxi's poor cousins, it isn't permeated with exhaust fumes, hotter than flambé, or festooned with "PetPeePee" ads. It's South Florida's tourist-friendly answer to San Francisco's cable cars and New York's ubiquitous yellow cabs. The water taxi is one of the few reasons why Fort Lauderdale's dated title, "the Venice of America," is still valid; where else can you stroll around downtown sidewalks and then hop on a water-bound tour bus to see the sites? (OK, fine: Miami, New York City, Seattle, and Baltimore, for starters.) But still. You've got to admit that watching the honeycombed yellow barges belly up to the waterfront to swallow a column of tourists headfirst borders on the charming, and floating through downtown with only the quiet whirr of a propeller to distract you is a hell of a lot better than the bus.

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