Balog sinks ships Harbor Shuttle: Giving monopoly to a rival company is bad news at start of tourist season.

March 01, 1997

AS BALTIMORE'S public works director, George S. Balog is a powerful man. He commands a big budget and an army of workers, who can favor friends or punish enemies. This fact is well understood: Mr. Balog derives much of his considerable power from being one of the most productive fund raisers for Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke's political causes.

Mr. Balog has now made a peculiar contribution to the commemoration of the 200th anniversary of Baltimore's incorporation. At the start of the tourist season, he has banished one of the two rival water taxi companies from using city landings at the Inner Harbor. If the decision sticks, the pontoon boats of Ron Morgan's Harbor Shuttle will go out of business and Ed Kane's Water Taxi will become a monopoly operator at a time when he is also taking over the tourist trolley routes.

Mr. Balog's decision stinks to high heaven. Why on earth would he want to create a monopoly when competition in recent years has provided better water taxi service at lower prices?

Rival passenger boat services from the Inner Harbor have done marvels to invigorate restaurant and tourist businesses in Fells Point and Canton. If anything, these shuttles should be encouraged to develop further by adding stops in South Baltimore.

In a city that has outrageously high downtown parking rates, the shuttles have offered a convenient and cost-effective way for tourists to take advantage of Baltimore's many offerings. We like Ed Kane's boats, but we need Ron Morgan's, too.

Pub Date: 3/01/97

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