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(Above) A new Chicago River water taxi, the Robert H, currently being built in New Iberia, Louisiana. (Click on images to view larger versions.)

11-Aug-19 – The family of Chicago River water taxis is growing. Wendella Sightseeing Co. Inc. says it is building a 120-passenger water taxi that will be delivered in December, bringing their total number of taxis to five.

“This is the result of growing demand on our current routes,” said Andrew Sargis, Wendella’s Chief of Operations, “as well as Wendella’s intention to expand to future stops along the north and south branch, specifically Site 78 on the south branch and Lincoln Yards on the north branch.”

The Robert H is being built at the Breaux Brothers shipyard in New Iberia, Louisiana. Sargis says it will be climate-controlled and have a wheelchair elevator.

Wendella Sightseeing Co. Inc.

It is named after Wendella CEO Robert Borgstrom, who was the captain of Wendella’s first commuter vessel in 1962.

(Left) Robert Borgstrom in 1963.

It was Borgstrom who once raced a CTA bus from Michigan Avenue to Ogilvie Transportation Center – then known as Chicago and North Western Terminal – and won.

In 2018, Wendella water taxis transported 400,000 passengers between seven stops on the main, south, and north branches of the Chicago River. According to Wendella, that is the equivalent of more than 8,000 bus trips or 200,000 automobile trips.

(Right) Chicago Water Taxi Bravo clears the Dearborn Street Bridge, lined with St. Patrick’s Day revelers shortly after the river was dyed green on March 12, 2016.

Photo by Steven Dahlman

Shoreline Sightseeing currently has six water taxis, each with a capacity of at least 80 passengers, traveling between three docks on the Chicago River and two on Lake Michigan.