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Business Observer Friday, Nov. 8, 2019 1 week ago

Aquatic transportation service returns to area waterway

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The Cross-Bay Ferry opens for a third season; Tampa mayor calls for it to be a permanent fixture.

Residents of St. Petersburg and Tampa will once again be able to ditch their cars if they want to cross that big body of water that separates them, with the Cross-Bay Ferry returning for a third season that began Nov. 1 and will end April 30, 2020.

The service will again launch from the Tampa Convention Center in Tampa and the Vinoy Yacht Basin in St. Petersburg. One-way fares remain the same: $8 for adults; $5 for seniors, military (both active and retired) and college students; $3 for kids age 5-18; and free for kids under 4.

A special 2019-2020 maiden voyage took place Oct. 30 with a passenger manifest that included Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp, Pinellas County Commissioner Janet Long and HMS Ferries President Matt Miller.

Castor says in the release that the Cross-Bay Ferry is a step in the right direction, but she favors the creation of a permanent Tampa Bay ferry service by calling water-based transportation “a major element of creating [a] true mobility system that our region can grow on.”

Miller, in addition to predicting a new ridership record for the 2019-2020 season, says via the release that HMS Ferries is prepared to commit $100 million, over the next 20 years, if Tampa Bay municipalities were to proceed with a permanent ferry service.

Like previous years, the ferry will run Wednesday through Sunday. Also, thanks to HMS Ferries’ new partnership with the Tampa Bay Lighting, the vessel will provide service for every Lightning home game, even Mondays and Tuesdays. It will not depart Tampa until 30 minutes after games have ended to give riders ample time to board, according to the release.

The Cross-Bay Ferry receives its funding from Pinellas County, Hillsborough County, the cities of Tampa and St. Pete and the Florida Department of Transportation. FDOT official Ming Gao, in the release, says the agency’s return on investment from the service “has been a strong one.”

For a full schedule of sailings, visit TheCrossBayFerry.com.

 

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