Cross-Bay Ferry smashes ridership record, carries more than 53,000 passengers this season

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 is surpassing even its own expectations, officials announced that the ferry carries more than 53,500 passengers during the 2021-22 season. The vessel will officially end its service in the Tampa Bay region on May 1, so there’s still time to crank up those numbers.

Capable of carrying 149 passengers at once, and equipped to fit bikes, the ferry vessel offers a one-of-a-kind travel experience for residents and visitors. While we’ve enjoyed seasonal service, by 2024 year-round service could be implemented. Hillsborough Area Regional Transit received a $4.9 million grant to secure a larger vessel that would call the St. Petersburg and Tampa area home permanently.

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Cross Bay Ferry moving to year-round service in 2024

A project of this magnitude isn’t the undertaking of just one group, of course. The Cross-Bay Ferry is a regional collaboration between Hillsborough County, Pinellas County, the City of Tampa, and the City of St. Petersburg. 

The current vessel has a full-service bar with basic food service. Passengers may bring up to two pieces of luggage and one small personal item at no extra charge, and they may also bring bikes on board. A larger ferry could help organizers expand the food and drink program, accommodate more luggage, and allow for more bikes on board. Extended operating hours, and more frequent commuter service are in the works.

Those interested in riding the ferry before it makes its final departure from the area can reserve tickets online. Passengers board just off Bayshore next to North Straub Park in downtown St. Petersburg, and just outside the Tampa Convention Center in Tampa.

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