Instead of traffic congestion, fumes and noise on your daily commute to work, what if you could substitute a quiet, scenic ride on the San Antonio River?
GO RIO river cruises is making it possible with the Commuter Express, running weekday mornings and evenings between Pearl and two River Walk restaurants in the heart of downtown.
Commuter Express is being given a trial run that began in July and extends through Oct. 31. If enough residents purchase passes, GO RIO will make the Commuter Express part of its permanent operations and possibly expand the route.
Lee Talamantez, GO RIO general manager, said the Commuter Express is designed to provide residents with an alternative to driving a vehicle and paying for downtown parking, hopefully relieving some traffic woes.
“We’re trying to provide San Antonians with a quick and eco-friendly way of avoiding the traffic hassles of downtown while still getting to work on time,” Talamantez said. “There’s plenty of parking around the Pearl. Commuter Express passes are only $25 a month, so if you’re paying $10 to $20 a day to park downtown, you can recoup the cost of a monthlong pass in only a few days. Plus it’s a nice, cool, relaxing 40-minute ride on the river – a great way to start or end your day.”
Commuter Express boats depart Pearl, 303 Pearl Parkway, at 7 and 7:30 a.m. Mondays through Fridays and drop passengers off at either the Casa Rio or Mexican Manhattan restaurants on the downtown loop of the River Walk.
Nonstop return boat service is at 5:30 and 6 p.m. from the two restaurants to Pearl. Commuters can buy passes online at GoRioCruises.com; they are not available at the regular ticket booths.
Because the GO RIO boats have electric motors, they are much quieter than the compressed natural-gas engines of their predecessors and do not emit fumes. GO RIO won a 10-year San Antonio contract to operate the river boats in May 2017. So far this year, Talamantez said GO RIO has carried more than 800,000 passengers, mostly tourists taking narrated rides through downtown.
“Since we began operations last fall, we’ve been looking for better ways to serve San Antonio residents as well as tourists,” Talamantez said.
GO RIO also offers a regular shuttle service that runs from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, with 13 stops downtown and along the Museum Reach. Replacing the former River Walk Taxi service, the GO RIO Shuttle operates more like a bus line.
“We found the taxi service to be particularly challenging since there are 50 to 60 places to dock downtown,” Talamantez said. “So we actually talked to VIA (Metropolitan Transit) and set up our regular shuttle to run more like a bus service on city streets.”
A one-way ride in the Downtown Reach is $10 or a 24-hour pass for downtown is $12. A one-day pass for the Museum Reach is $12, or riders can get a combination one-day shuttle for $16 that includes both downtown and the Museum Reach.
Tourists can get a three-day combination shuttle pass for $25. Bexar County residents are eligible for a monthlong pass for $25 that covers both the Downtown and Museum reaches.
This summer, GO RIO also launched new specialty cruises targeting both locals and tourists. Foodies go for the specialty dining and cocktail cruises.
Chef Jason Dady’s Range on the River Dinner Cruise at 7 p.m. Sept. 25 features a three-course meal during the two-hour journey, along with a narrated tour of San Antonio history. The 45-minute Range on the River Cocktail Cruises from 6-6:45 p.m. and 7-7:45 p.m. Sept. 12 offer two drinks plus freshly prepared hors d’oeuvres.
Enjoy a Mexican brunch and cocktails on the Acenar Brunch Cruises from 9:45-11:45 a.m. Sept. 8 and 22.
In addition, you can work out while taking a scenic ride on GO RIO’s Fitness Cruises on the River.
Head instructor Miranda Puente of MixFitSA will lead yoga enthusiasts through a series of balancing, stretching and mobility exercises on the Yoga Fitness Cruise 9-10 a.m. Sept. 14.