Our photo contributor and Social Media moderator John is showcasing this 2003 35-foot New Flyer D35LF transit bus for the May “Photo of the Month”. This bus (out of four total) originally belonged to Capital Metro in Austin, TX as #2028, but is now part of the Community Connector bus fleet in Bangor, ME as #0329. Community Connector has several buses in its fleet that were purchased secondhand – meaning that the buses were retired by one agency and then sold to another for rehabilitation and second revenue service life. Despite the heavy mechanical overhaul that the four buses have received (along with Community Connector’s red exterior livery), the interiors largely retain the Capital Metro styling, including the seats and seat cushions.
Today (April 30, 2017) marked the final day of the six-month Cross-Bay Ferry pilot project. While I’m very sad to see this mode of transport go, I remain hopeful that the City of Tampa, the City of St. Petersburg, and the counties of Pinellas and Hillsborough, will be able to put together the funding needed to have at least a seasonal ferry service in place for the long term.
What did we learn?
Despite concerns that the ferry wouldn’t generate enough ridership, it actually generated enough to allow the operating company to reimburse some of the money back to the cities and counties. The strongest ridership patterns were seen on the weekends, and believe it or not – most riders were residents rather than tourists visiting the region.
The four governments involved will evaluate the full results from the trial period and determine what will be needed to establish a more permanent ferry service – even if it starts out as a seasonal service. Hillsborough County leaders are determined to complete its plans to launch a ferry line between Apollo Beach and MacDill Air Force Base, and if enough boats are purchased for that route, some could be used for service between Tampa and St. Pete on weekends.