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A New Way to Commute is On the Horizon

A New Way to Commute is On the Horizon
December 2019
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Daniel Island Ferry could cut travel times





Daniel Island Ferry partners Colby Hollifield, Chip Deaton, and Scott Connelly debuted their new boat, Indigo, earlier this year.

Standing in the wheelhouse of his company’s new, 45-foot ferry boat, Indigo, in late September, Scott Connelly appeared blissful. With a huge smile plastered across his face, he expertly steered the vessel at high speed on its maiden voyage across Charleston Harbor. Sporting a plaid shirt and full beard, Connelly seemed more lumberjack than entrepreneur, but along with his partners Chip Deaton and Colby Hollifield, he’s on the verge of changing the game for some local commuters. The trio’s Daniel Island Ferry promises to cut in half commute times between the island and the Charleston peninsula when the service begins April 1.

For Connelly and Deaton, working on the water is old hat. These two have been running Charleston Water Taxi for 14 years, carrying passengers between downtown and Mount Pleasant. The three partners started the Daniel Island service last year and launched the enclosed Indigo this fall, with departures from the dock near the Children’s Park on Friday and Saturday nights. They also offer a Friday night City Lights Harbor Cruise as well as charter outings.

All this time, they’ve harbored plans to offer a commuter service. “Travelling by ferry here just makes sense,” Connelly says. “This is how people used to get around this region before we had bridges. When you think about Clements Ferry and Mathis Ferry and other similar place names, those were all ferry stops. Chip, Colby, and I realized that we could bring that back.”

Their secret for cutting drive times resides on the transom—twin 425-horsepower outboard engines. These behemoths have the capacity to move Indigo and a full load of 45 passengers at more than 30 miles per hour. On that maiden voyage out of the Charleston Maritime Center, Hollifield clocked the run to Daniel Island at 16 minutes dock-to-dock. The vessel sports a climate-controlled interior, comfortable front-deck seating, a restroom, and WiFi. They're fitting the aft deck with a bicycle rack for two-wheel commuters.

“You have to admit,” Connelly says, “this is a beautiful way to travel. You just step on board with your morning coffee, and 20 minutes later you’re downtown.”

The partners tested the commuter route last year when several lanes on the James B. Edwards Bridge that links Daniel Island and Mount Pleasant were closed for repairs for two weeks. “We put our water taxis into service right away and advertised to commuters,” Deaton says. “What we learned is that people are very comfortable staying in their vehicles. While it took a lot of convincing for them to try our service, the people who did became happy customers. Once they realized how hassle-free it is, they were ready to keep coming back.”

For now, take the ferry to avoid driving downtown on the weekend or as a scenic way to visit Daniel Island. Come spring, it could be your solution for arriving to work on time. For schedules, visit diferry.com.

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Photograph courtesy of (boat) Daniel Island Ferry