MOLINE — Preparations are underway for this year's Channel Cat Water Taxi season to launch later this month.
The open-air boats take passengers back and forth across the Mississippi River on leisure rides to landings on both the Iowa and Illinois sides. Passengers can get on and off as much as they choose for one ticket good for all day. Ticket prices are $4 for children 2-10 and $8 for adults.
Last season the Channel Cat had a record ridership of nearly 44,000 passengers, said Jennifer Garrity, manager of administration at QC MetroLink.
"We would look for a comparable year to last year, as we saw great weather and a lot of people take advantage of it," Ms. Garrity said. "We're also one of the most popular attractions in the Q-C."
The Channel Cat operates seven days a week from Memorial Day through Labor Day, with additional weekend service through October, weather permitting. The first day of service this year is scheduled for May 26.
"Everyone is working fast and furiously to get everything done by then," Ms. Garrity said.
Many improvements are being made for this season, Ms. Garrity said. The boats are getting repainted for a fresh look when they hit the water. Also, new landings have been created to offer more accessibility, including a wider passenger queue area on the dock, railings and a pedestrian bridge that provides connections to parking on River Drive in Moline.
A new application launched last year lets people buy their tickets through their phones to make it more convenient for those who don't carry cash with them.
"We're hoping people take advantage of it, as it used to be a cash-only situation," Ms. Garrity said.
The first Channel Cat passenger ferryboat began operating on the river in the Quad Cities in 1995 as a result of a River Action initiative. In 1988, MetroLINK secured the ferryboat service. Since then, it has expanded service to three ferryboats serving more than 44,000 riders annually, Ms. Garrity said.
For schedules and more details, visit gogreenmetro.com/231/Channel-Cat or call 309-788-3360. Currently, MetroLINK also is contacting businesses wishing to participate in promotions when people buy tickets.
Where can you catch the Channel Cat?
The Channel Cat water taxis return to the Mississippi River on May 26. Rides on the open-air Mississippi River crafts are available at:
Moline: Ben Butterworth Parkway at Celebration Pier, 2951 River Drive.
Moline: John Deere Commons Landing, 1415 River Drive.
Bettendorf: Isle Casino Hotel, 17th Street and Isle Parkway.
Davenport: Village of East Davenport, Lindsay Park, 2100 E. River Drive.