Cross-Bay Ferry to continue after Pinellas County agrees to new deal with St. Pete

Exterior of a large ferry vessel with multiple people on board. A small dock is on the right side of the photo.

The Cross-Bay Ferry has been a major public transportation success for the Tampa Bay region. Its future was called into question when the Board of County Commissioners said no to an agreement with local governments in Hillsborough, Tampa, and St. Pete in May.

How does the new deal compare to the previous proposal? Pinellas will have to provide $38,000 in taxpayer funding for the next fiscal year as opposed to $190,000 under the original proposal. The contract is between Pinellas County and the city of St. Petersburg, with the county paying $129,500 in a lump-sum payment within the next 30 days to cover all three years of the contract. The news was first reported by the Tampa Bay Business Journal.

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A three-year grant from the Florida Department of Transportation will make up the difference.

Hillsborough County is the lead government agency on the Cross-Bay Ferry Project. They voted earlier in the summer to renew their agreement with HMS Ferries.

The Passenger Ferry Grant program (49 U.S.C. 5307(h)) provides competitive funding for projects that support passenger ferry systems in urbanized areas. These funds constitute a core investment in the enhancement and revitalization of public ferry systems in the nation’s urbanized areas. Funds are awarded based on factors such as the age and condition of existing ferry boats, terminals and related infrastructure; benefits to riders, such as increased reliability; project readiness; and connectivity to other modes of transportation.  Funding is allocated to projects on a competitive basis, from proposals submitted to FTA in response to Notices of Funding Opportunities.  Once awards are announced, funds are available for the year the announcement is made plus five years. 

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