The Baltimore Department of Transportation has been awarded a federal grant of more than $850,000 to purchase an electric boat for its free Harbor Connector service in the Inner Harbor.

The service operates water taxis along three routes across the water and between downtown and South Baltimore neighborhoods, and connects to the city's free Charm City Circulator bus network.

The new boat won't add another route, but could add capacity and will "reduce the city's carbon footprint," said Barry Robinson, the city's chief of transit and marine services.

With the purchase of the electric boat, the city will stop using an older diesel boat owned by Baltimore Water Taxi, the private company that runs Harbor Connector and its own, for-pay water taxi routes. The city already owns the other two diesel boats it uses for Harbor Connector.

The city pays Baltimore Water Taxi $15,000 per route per month to operate the service, and allows the company to use the city's boats for its own uses outside of Harbor Connector's 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekday operations.

Michael McDaniel, president and CEO of Baltimore Water Taxi, said a new route isn't planned, but the diesel boat that is being taken off Harbor Connector duty will be used strategically in future operations.

Officials have said Baltimore's network of water taxis is poised for growth as the neighborhoods around the water continue to fill in.

krector@baltsun.com

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