A new travel option from Huron allows passengers to relax over the water rather than trek across highways to reach Cleveland.
Huron city manager Andy White captained a partnership with the Lorain Port Authority, in which a 77-foot Jet Express boat will shuttle people from Huron to Cleveland and back.
Planners scheduled four trips this year with the maiden voyage set for July 28.
About 150 passengers can pay $39 apiece for a 12-hour roundtrip excursion, scheduled around casino trips and Cleveland Browns regular season NFL games.
Passengers aren’t limited to attend just these events, White said. People can also opt to visit the Greater Cleveland Aquarium, the Great Lakes Science Center, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum or simply stroll around downtown.
In brainstorming the deal, White wanted to provide Erie County residents a boat ride going somewhere other than Put-in-Bay or Kelleys Island.
“The islands are pretty well served with boats departing from Sandusky or Port Clinton,” he said. “But around here, nobody offered access into the city of Cleveland on a boat.”
White convinced all seven city council members to support the idea. The elected officials recently voted 7-0, agreeing to spend $1,300 in taxpayer funds so Huron could secure a Jet Express boat for four trips.
Ideally, passengers will board the vessel at 8 a.m. within the Huron Boat Basin.
The three-hour trek to Cleveland includes a stop in Lorain. To pass the time, people can view Lake Erie’s majestic sights, as well as purchase alcohol provided by the Jet Express.
“This is a fantastic idea,” said Rick Novak, Lorain Port Authority’s executive director. “This is a real, true partnership.”
To further entice ridership, port authority officials are offering a $15 slot machine voucher for every passenger on the July and August trips. Anyone scheduling a ride in advance of the departure date will also receive $5 off a ticket.
Huron officials, meanwhile, envision people flocking to city-based bars and restaurants upon returning Saturday evenings.
“We can have dozens of people come into the downtown area,” White said. “When people come back around a late dinner hour, that is potential to boost our local economy.”
If the four pilot boat rides float with residents, White said he’ll schedule more rides next year with trips possibly focused on baseball games and zoo visits in Cleveland.
The boat rides piggyback off an aggressive master plan Huron officials developed a year ago, calling for a radical city transformation over the next decade. The plan should improve upon existing and add new community features — all to entice residents and entrepreneurs to move to and stay in Huron.
“Hopefully it’s successful,” White said.