A recent study conducted by the Worcester Polytechnic Institute has shown that close to nine in 10 people would be interested in using water taxis to travel across Victoria Harbour between Hong Kong Island and the Kowloon Peninsula.

According to an article published by the South China Morning Post, the study’s researchers noted that such an initiative would require an entity that was willing to be responsible and accountable for implementing such a scheme and suggested the government begin by utilising existing boats and facilities rather than launching new licensed vessels.

The study was funded by local Hong Kong organisers Designing Hong Kong and the Harbour Business Forum.

A number of on-demand small boats already offer transportation in certain districts around the city, namely Aberdeen, Shau Kei Wan, Sai Kung and destinations in Lantau.

However, the idea for a formal water taxi scheme appears to be gaining traction. In November last year, the city’s government floated a proposal to introduce water taxis and tourism sector lawmaker, Yiu Si-wing, has forecast that such vessels could be introduced between Hong Kong Island and the West Kowloon Cultural District before the end of 2019.

According to the Post, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Edward Yau Tang-wah, told the Legislative Council’s economic services panel meeting yesterday that discussions were underway to introduce water taxis that would be able to offer rides between West Kowloon, Tsim Sha Tsui and Hong Kong Island.

Hong Kong already has ferry services operating between key ports on both sides of Victoria Harbour, most notably at Central, Wan Chai and North Point on Hong Kong Island and Tsim Sha Tsui, Hung Hom and Kowloon City on the Kowloon Peninsula.

However, water taxis could function more akin to ride-sharing app Uber and Designing Hong Kong is currently looking for joint-venture and technology partners in order to develop a support centre and app for water taxi services.

Hong Kong wouldn’t be the first city in Asia to launch water taxi services. Singapore already offers such a service, while Tokyo Water Taxi began operating its first diesel-powered vessels in mid-2016 around Tokyo Bay’s waterways. The company says it plans to have a total of 60 such boats operating by the time the 2020 Olympic Games roll around.

Business Traveller looked into the Japanese capital’s water taxis in our recent feature “Navigating Tokyo”.

Navigating Tokyo