Cross-Bay Ferry Pilot Project Winds Down
By ANNE LINDBERG, TB Reporter
The ferry has returned about 8 percent of the total money used to finance it, officials said.
ST. PETERSBURG/TAMPA – Folks who want to try out the Cross-Bay Ferry but haven’t done so are running out of time.
The ferry will make the last run of its six-month run on April 30.
It’s unclear if the ferry will return. The six-month run was a pilot project among the governments of the cities of St. Petersburg and Tampa and the counties of Pinellas and Hillsborough designed to see if there’s enough ridership and interest to sustain a ferry.
As far as St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman is concerned, the answer is a clear “yes.” Kriseman has spoken to both the Pinellas County Commission and the St. Pete City Council is recent weeks. The mayor’s conclusion: “There is a demand for ferry service in Tampa Bay.”
Kriseman pointed to increasing ridership over the life of the project – although data from the final month of April won’t be available until May – and a return on investment. Each of the four governments had kicked in $350,000, for a total of $1.4 million, to get the pilot running. There was no guarantee that any of the money would be returned. But figures released today (April 12) indicate that, through the end of March, the ferry had returned a total of about $111,934 to the four governments – about 8 percent of the original total investment. Each government got an equal share of about $27,984.
The results are even more impressive, Kriseman said, when the limited ferry schedule is taken into account. It runs two roundtrips daily from Sunday through Friday and three on Saturday.
In the short term, Kriseman suggested in his presentations, the four governmental partners could look for funding to provide seasonal service until some permanent ferry service is begun. One possibility, he said, is the proposed MacDill Passenger service. Hillsborough County has allocated $750,000 for the design and engineering of such a service.
In the long run, the mayor suggested the four governments look for opportunities to purchase, lease and/or build, ferries for seasonal and/or full-time service.
For information about the Cross-Bay ferry, or for tickets, go to crossbayferry.com.
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