Sarah Hollenbeck, WTSP
The brand new Cross Bay Ferry will take its maiden voyage across Tampa Bay today.
The ferry service will connect downtown St Pete to downtown Tampa.
Tuesday, city and county leaders from both sides of the Bay will take the first trip but beginning today you can buy tickets for the first day the ferry opens to the public: Friday.
Leaders in Hillsborough and Pinellas have worked for years towards this day.
The 149-person ferry is part of a 6-month pilot program.
The boat will connect you from the pier behind the Museum of History in St Petersburg’s North Yacht Basin to the Convention Center in downtown Tampa along the Riverwalk.
The ferry will run twice a day and start with mostly weekend service. It will take 50 minutes to get from one side of the bay to the other. Tickets are $10 each way, $8 for kids, children 3 and under are free.
St Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman says sitting on this ferry will sure beat sitting in traffic, “When there is a car accident during rush hour on the Howard Frankland, that trip can take you up to two hours. On the ferry, you don’t have to worry about traffic and you can leisurely sip coffee and read a book on your way to work,” he explained, “No, this won’t fix our transportation issues, but it’s a step in the right direction.”
City leaders want to know if the boats are popular and from there they’ll look at expanding the service.
The biggest criticism they’ve heard: That the boats won’t make enough trips to make it a reliable option to get to and from work.
Initially for the first few weeks, it will run on weekends. Then the ferry will expand to two trips a day, and 3 trips on Saturdays.
Your tax dollars paid for $1.5 million bucks to get the Cross Bay Ferry up and running. City and county leaders hope it is so popular that businesses will end up chipping in for the service, or a company will come in to run it like the service connecting Clearwater to the beach.
If you don’t want to pay $10 bucks for a one-way trip, you should know local companies stepped in to sponsor free rides. You can ride free on every third Sunday..and on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Thanksgiving week.
You can find the ferry schedule here: http://crossbayferry.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Ferry-schedule.pdf
You can find all other information here: http://crossbayferry.com/