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.