The water taxi shuttling people throughout the Thames River Heritage Park will stay open later this summer for rides between Groton and New London to accommodate passengers who want to use it to get home from dinner or evening events.
Billed as a way for tourists to see the cultural and historical sites along the river, the water taxi has for two seasons made trips on summer Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays to Fort Trumbull State Park, New London's City Pier and Fort Griswold Battlefield State Park in Groton.
Last year, the second summer that the water taxi operated among the three stops, the last boat left New London at 8:20 p.m.
"If you were going to dinner and you knew you had to be done by 8:20, that means you're leaving pretty early," said Amy Perry, the heritage park foundation's executive director.
Starting on the first day of the water taxi season, May 25, the last boat to Thames River Landing in Groton now will leave New London's City Pier on Fridays and Saturdays at 9:20 p.m. and Sundays at 8:40 p.m. The boats will leave every 20 minutes directly between Groton and New London — skipping the stop at Fort Trumbull — starting at 7:20 p.m. each evening.
Perry said she hopes the extra trips will encourage Groton residents to use the taxi service to get to dinner in New London, and vice versa.
"That extra hour makes a huge difference," she said.
Tickets cost $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 4 to 12 and $5 for active members of the military. Children age 3 and younger ride the taxi for free. The season pass is $50 for adults and $30 for children age 12 and under. A $150 family season pass is available through June 17, which provides a $10 savings when compared with the price of four individual season passes.
In 2017 more than 2,200 people used the water taxi to visit the heritage park's main sites or to travel to dining locations in both cities, Perry said. Another several hundred people bought tickets for sightseeing cruises in the two surplus Navy vessels the foundation uses for the water taxi service.
The water taxi operators also will start taking a more scenic route between Groton and New London during the hourly daytime trips to give passengers a better look at the sights along the river's banks, Perry said.
"Last year we basically went back and forth," she said. "We want people to enjoy the water, so when you get on a water taxi ... they'll do a nice wide loop approaching the bridge."