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New swan boats make debut in The Woodlands

August 8, 2018

Almost a year after Hurricane Harvey rendered all but one of The Woodlands’ famed Waterway Cruisers unusable, officials from The Woodlands Township unveiled their long-necked replacements on Tuesday — a flock of 10 pedal-powered swan boats that will be housed at the Riva Row Boat House.

The pedal boats, modeled after similar vessels popular in New Jersey and Boston, are now officially available for public rental.

During a ceremony hosted by township officials at the boat house on Tuesday, township Board of Directors Vice Chairman John Anthony Brown explained why The Woodlands Waterway is so critical to the township.

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“One of our prized assets in The Woodlands Township is our Waterway Canal,” Brown said. “And right now we have something that’s missing — so this is a great opportunity for our residents to use the canal in a fun and exciting way.”

The Woodlands’ six original Waterway Cruisers were a mainstay for years in the community for both residents and visitors, but Hurricane Harvey’s rainy deluge essentially destroyed the electrical systems in most of the boats in the small fleet.

In December, township officials declared one of the boats fit to return to service, but by January, the logistical complications — too much demand and too little supply, as well as more mechanical problems in the lone operational boat — proved too costly. That led the township to terminate their contract with proprietor Waterway Events, LLC. in February, suspending the service indefinitely.

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A highlight of The Woodlands and its signature body of water, the Cruisers were used to taxi residents to businesses up and down the Waterway and by visitors as a way to see the township from a different perspective.

“We needed another amenity to replace the Waterway Cruisers,” Brown said.

After a brief proposal process, the township Board of Directors approved the swan boats for purchase in early June at a cost of $57,000.

The boats, Brown said, add another low-cost way for people in The Woodlands to get outside and onto the water as summer winds down.

“This is just another environment for residents and visitors to be outside in,” Brown said.

The hot, humid morning didn’t stop residents from coming out and being among the first to pedal around the basin below the Riva Row Boat House. Brown.

Township Board Chairman Gordy Bunch and his family, as well as Director Ann Snyder, tried their hands — or feet — at powering and steering the as of yet unnamed swans.

“They’re very easy to operate,” Brown said. “They have a small rudder to go left and right; it takes maybe 30 seconds to learn how to steer them.”

The boats are available for rental for $25 starting Tuesday. Users can ride the swan boats past the turning basin at Riva Row Park and along on the upper Waterway and Lake Woodlands, but are restricted from passing the Anadarko bridge on the northern edge of Lake Woodlands and are not permitted to enter Lake Robbins.

Summer may be ending for kids in The Woodlands, but the south Texas heat guarantees at least a few more months gliding the water on the backs of the majestic bird-like boats.

“We’re excited to have something new to do here on the Waterway,” Bunch said at the launch. “And we look forward to seeing everyone enjoying it.”

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