ST. MARYS, GA. | Water taxi service between St. Marys and Fernandina Beach moved closer to reality Monday as the St. Marys City Council voted to proceed with two years of subsidized boat service between the two cities.

St. Marys will waive two years of dock fees to help get the service started, as will Fernandina Beach. Tourism offices in the two towns will work to promote the taxi service and $20,000 to $30,000 in grant funding is being sought to subsidize two years of fuel costs for the water taxi startup.

Fernandina adopted a parallel resolution on Feb. 17. Fernandina Beach will act as lead agency in the water taxi bid. Both communities will work on promotion of the service, mainly by using their social media tools.

St. Marys City Manager John Holman said much more work remained to be done, but an optimistic estimate of the projected timeline for the project could see it started in around six months.

A review of benefits of the water taxi project showed:

Fernandina Beach and Amelia Island visitors will be able to make a connection to Cumberland Island National Seashore.

St. Marys visitors and residents will be be able to connect to Fernandina Beach and the National Park Service's Timucuan Preserve.

Both cities will be able to market connections the two Park Service sites via water-taxi, ferry and bike trails from visitor stays in either or both cities.

Bicyclists from Georgia and Florida will have safe connections across the St. Marys River.

Riders of the future East Coast Greenway national coastal trail will have a ferry connection between the states.