TAMPA, Fla.- A project linking the downtowns of Tampa and St. Petersburg through a cross-bay ferry received an unanimous backing Wednesday from the Hillsborough County Commission.
This was just one approval of many that are still needed for the project that has been in the making for years. The $1.4 million project needs approval from the Tampa and St. Petersburg City Councils today and the Pinellas County Commission next week.
If approved, the ferry could start carrying passengers as early as November 1.
Back in January, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman introduced the cross-bay ferry to the County Commission. Tampa, Hillsborough and Pinellas gave him the thumbs up to begin negotiating a deal to make it happen.
The deal with HMS Ferries goes as follows: each of the four governments will initially pitch in $350,000 (amounting to $1.4 million). HMS Ferries will operate daily service between St. Petersburg’s North Yacht Basin and a dock near the Convention Center in Tampa.
Two round-trips will be made by the ferries a day Saturday through Thursday. Three round-trips will be made on Fridays. A one-way ticket will be $10, but prices may fluctuate as more details become available.
The first $125,000 in ticket sales will go to HMS and any additional revenue will be split among the four governments.
Those in support of the project hope that tourists and residents will use the ferry to travel between cities. They hope St. Petersburg residents will use the ferry to get to Tampa Bay Lightning games (with Amalie Arena being near the Convention Center) or Tampa visitors crossing to check out restaurants on Beach Drive.
There will be a six-month test run for the project. It will measure the ferry’s use by commuters and non-commuters, as well as the effect it will have on vehicle usage. Officials will then decide whether it is logical to make this project permanent.