Want a New Way to Explore the City? Rent a Jet Ski

Pittsburgh’s only jet ski rental company offers people another option to see the city by way of its three rivers.
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PHOTO COURTESY JAKE TOVEY | STEEL CITY JET SKI RENTALS

Yes, you really did read that correctly — this summer you can rent a jet ski to roam the city’s waterways.

Steel City Jet Ski Rentals, which opened on May 15, provides people the opportunity to ride a jet ski on Pittsburgh’s three rivers, regardless of their experience level. Based out of Station Square, the company gives customers access to a 10-mile radius of city views, with boundaries at McKees Rock Bridge, Hot Metal Bridge and 40th Street Bridge. 

Jake Tovey, founder and CEO of Steel City Jet Ski Rentals, says he was inspired to start the company after he saw a Snapchat of Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster riding a jet ski around Downtown last summer. 

“I thought that would be really fun, so I looked up jet ski rentals in Pittsburgh and couldn’t find any,” Tovey says.

Currently, Steel City Jet Ski Rentals offers 30 minute, one-hour, two-hour, and four-hour rentals. Customers must be 16 years or older to operate a jet ski, though Tovey says there is no age restriction for passengers. Each jet ski can fit up to three people.  

Prices fluctuate based on demand and peak hours; booking on weekdays is less than on weekends. Real-time pricing can be found on the website’s live calendar, which allows customers to book rentals anytime from the same day until Oct. 3.  

While no jet ski experience is required, a Boating Safety Education Certificate from the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission is. Customers who don’t already have one can visit Steel City Jet Ski Rentals’ website, where there are directions on how to obtain a temporary certificate before arriving on site. Tovey says the process involves watching a safety video and taking a quiz. 

All participants also receive a 5-to-10-minute in-depth briefing from company employees on site. Tovey, an avid jet skier himself, says he trained staff to make sure they feel comfortable on the watercraft and can answer any questions people may have about riding one.

“I have full confidence in my staff — we spent a lot of time training,” Tovey says. “We’re very thorough. Everything they [customers] need to know, they’re hearing three times through the video, the quiz and our briefing on site.” 

iPads and implemented software allow the staff to track jet ski locations and monitor their speeds. Jet skis will automatically slow down in no-wake zones and areas beyond the company’s set boundaries. 

The staff can also buzz customers if they exceed their rental time, travel too far out, or show signs of dangerous activity. In addition, the company provides customers with dry bags so they can safely bring their phones on the water and call the staff if any questions or problems arise. 

Tovey, who has investment real estate as well as an Airbnb rentals business, says he donates 10% of his proceeds to charities that benefit the Pittsburgh community. Steel City Jet Ski Rentals supports Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Pittsburgh, a youth mentoring program for children from single-parent families, low-income households, and underperforming schools. 

“A big reason why I’ve had the success I’ve had is a lot of the relationships I’ve had in my life through coaches, mentors and my parents growing up,” Tovey says. “It’s a really cool charity that I like to be able to give back to those who maybe aren’t as fortunate as me.” 

Tovey will also donate an additional 5% of the proceeds to JDRF, a charity that funds research for Type 1 Diabetes.  

“I, unfortunately, lost a cousin actually a week before we started up [Steel City Jet Ski Rentals] who had Type 1 Diabetes, which is probably the toughest thing my family has ever had to go through,” Tovey says. “…Hopefully it’ll find a cure and honor my cousin that way.”

Steel City Jet Ski Rentals received its sixth jet ski last Friday and hopes to have eight total as soon as possible.  

“It’s been really incredible to see the positive response we’ve had,” Tovey says. “I’m really excited about it, everyone else is really excited about it, and I love Pittsburgh and being able to bring something fun to the city.”

Steel City Jet Ski Rentals is open from noon to 8 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays, and from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays. To book a jet ski rental, visit the company’s website. 

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