New conceptual renderings have been revealed for the Cross Bay Ferry. The final design won’t be settled on until November of this year. But the brand new renderings reveal how HMS Ferries, and county leaders intend to increase its annual passenger capacity to nearly 800,000 riders. The new vessel would put a substantial number of bike racks up front to make for a more efficient boarding process. This could provide better access for Tampa residents wanting to attend Tampa Bay Rays and Rowdies games. Additionally, it would allow Tampa residents to better take advantage of the wonderful events happening on the 26-acre St. Pete Pier. The news was first reported by The Tampa Bay Business Journal.
The larger vessels would operate later into the evening on weekends, and offer service 7 days a week. Permanent Cross Bay Ferry service would operate on all weeknights and weekends, 365-days a year between Tampa, St. Petersburg, and South County. No bridges. No traffic congestion. Just fun and relaxation. Permanent weekday service would begin with commuter ferry service between South Hillsborough County and MacDill Air Force Base. The MacDill commuter route would remove more than ten million miles of car trips off our local roads, easing the commute of thousands of locals who work at MacDill Air Force Base to protect our nation.
The Cross Bay Ferry is surpassing even its own expectations, officials announced that the ferry carries more than 53,500 passengers during the 2021-22 season.
Cross-Bay Ferry to secure larger vessel for permanent service
This permanent ferry service would lay the foundation for future ferry service between St. Petersburg, Westshore, downtown Tampa, and rapidly-growing South Hillsborough County. Our region needs reliable, flexible, and fiscally responsible commuting options for residents and visitors, and permanent ferry service can play a vital role in the continued sustainable growth of Tampa, St. Petersburg, and the surrounding communities.
Expanded and permanent ferry service is in the works for Tampa, St. Petersburg, Pinellas County, and South Hillsborough County. This multi-municipality partnership would bring up to four ferry vessels running 365 days a year — instead of a single vessel running for seven months — by 2025.
Multi-million dollar pledge to support ferry service
Thanks to an unprecedented $175 million financial pledge by HMS Ferries, local governments won’t be tasked with funding operations or maintenance of this service, and the proposal includes land donated by the Mosaic Company for the South County ferry terminal. The only public investment would be in new ferries and terminals, all for less than the cost of widening a county road just two miles.
U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (FL14) announced that the Department of Transportation will award the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) $4,863,280 through the FY 2021 Passenger Ferry Grant Program. The Cross Bay Ferry made its return to the Tampa Bay region in the fall of 2021. This year and next, the ferry will offer an extended season, with an additional month of service, and an expanded daily schedule, with later evening runs. The Cross Bay Ferry is a regional collaboration between Hillsborough County, Pinellas County, the City of Tampa, and the City of St. Petersburg.
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