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Water Taxi The Woodlands


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Water Taxi files suit for nonpayment of services

By: BRITTANIE HOOFARD , Villager staff, 03/03/05

Water Taxi Inc., the Florida-based company that provides nearly all services related to The Woodlands Waterway, is suing The Brazos Transit District for nonpayment of services, which constitutes a breach of contract.

Water Taxi's Woodlands branch is under a 10-year contract with The District to provide maintenance and operation of the six boats that cruise The Waterway. Pilots of the boats, as well as the deckhands and employees that man ticket counters, are also employed by Water Taxi through the contract, which was filed in November of 2003. Water Taxi services began on The Waterway in July of 2004.

The District, a political subdivision of the State of Texas, funds its operations in part with taxpayer money from the Texas Department of Transportation and the Federal Transportation Administration. Though The Woodlands Development Company oversaw development of The Waterway, The District maintains full control over the 1.25-mile tourist attraction. The District also oversees the operation of the trolleys that transport shoppers from attraction to attraction in Town Center, as well as public transportation services in 15 other Texas counties.

According to the original petition, which was filed Dec. 28 in the 272 District Court of Texas in Bryan, all the funds collected by Water Taxi, including fares and payments for special events, are to be submitted, via invoice, to The District by the fifth day of each month, per the terms of the contract. The petition also states that The District is supposed to pay Water Taxi for its services within 30 days of receipt of the invoice.

Water Taxi states in the petition that it has submitted invoices to The District monthly since services began, but has received payment only for the first two months, July and August, of 2004.

The District claims that it has not received invoices for September or October of 2004, and therefore cannot pay Water Taxi, according to court documents.

In addition to full restitution, Water Taxi is also suing for the payment of attorney fees, court costs, and interest on the unpaid invoices.

Norm Bekoff, president of Water Taxi of The Woodlands, deferred all comments to the company's attorney, Karen Jewell.

"I think the petition pretty much speaks for itself," Jewell said.

Margie Lucas, assistant general manager for The District, also declined comment.

"It's our policy not to make any comments on ongoing litigation," she said.

The case will be heard in the 272 District Court because The District's main headquarters are in Bryan.

Water Taxi Inc also operates aquatic transportation services in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and Oklahoma City. No court date has yet been set for this suit.

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