Cross-Bay Ferry readies for November 1 launch

The countdown begins! We’re just several short weeks away from the return of the Cross-Bay Ferry. The service is the first step toward trying to solve some transportation woes in the Tampa Bay region.

If you’ve been on the Howard Frankland at rush hour (or any time of day) then you know what we’re talking about.

Ferry service will officially launch on November 1 and will run through April 30 2020.

Breaking passenger records

38,000 passengers rode the ferry in its first season, and 53,000 in its second season. Officials are confident they will surpass that number in its third run.

Ticket prices and complete schedules will be available in mid-October. Follow the Cross-Bay Ferry’s website for updates.

While we love the seasonal service, permanent service could be imminent for the area.

Hillsborough County is collaborating with HMS Ferries and South Swell Development Group to develop permanent ferry service for Tampa Bay.

Permanent service could be on the way

In July, 2019, the Mosaic Corporation offered to provide land for a South Hillsborough County terminal and its access roadway at its Big Bend location. And the Hillsborough County Commission has asked the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) to step into the project to help develop it.

HMS Ferries, the company that runs the Cross Bay Ferry (CBF), and its development partner, South Swell Development Group, will design, build and operate a complete ferry system for Tampa Bay that would include
commuter service from South County to MacDill Air Force Base (MAFB) as well as evening and weeknight service between downtown Tampa, downtown St. Petersburg and South County.

Operating nearly 16 hours a day

Service would operate between 12 and 16 hours each day, seven days each week. The South County ferry terminal would be located at Mosaic’s Big Bend location at the end of Big Bend Road.

Don’t worry. Permanent service wouldn’t be fund by taxpayers. The private partners have offered to cover all operating, maintenance and repair costs of the system over a 20 year period, nearly $104 million, with no subsidies from local taxpayers. This would be the first local public transit system in Florida that would not require a local or state operating subsidy.

*Featured image via City of Tampa on Facebook

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Written by Andrew Harlan

Andrew Harlan

Andrew Harlan is the Editor of thatssotampa.com. Follow him on Twitter @harlanyoungII and Instagram @harlanyoung. Send tips and potential stories to info@thatssotampa.com.