HART receives $4.8 million grant to expand Cross-Bay Ferry service in Tampa Bay

The Crossbay Ferry docked in Tampa Bay

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. 

“What a fitting love note from the Biden Administration to our Tampa community on Valentine’s Day – this grant will allow HART to significantly reduce operational costs while expanding the Cross Bay Ferry service, helping to grow intercity and commuter ferry service. It will grow a popular transit option between Tampa and St. Pete, reduce congestion, create local jobs, support small businesses and increase connectivity in the Tampa Bay region. In fact, over 90 percent of the CBF passengers patronize restaurants, shops, museums and sporting events in these two urban areas. This investment is a win-win-win for our community and all of our neighbors.

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The Cross-Bay Ferry can carry up to 149 passengers at a time

The ferry vessel is a twin-hull aluminum catamaran that can carry a maximum of 149 guests at an average speed of 30 mph. The 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. 

“I look forward to continuing to work with local partners like HART, the City and the County to secure federal funds for multi-modal projects that support our local economy and neighbors,” said Rep. Castor, who championed the project.

“We are thrilled to have received this grant,” said Hillsborough County Commissioner and HART Chairperson Pat Kemp, a longtime proponent of Tampa Bay ferry service. “It’s a great down payment on permanent service. It just goes to show how strong our ferry project is and the value of our region working together.”

Revitalizing public ferry systems in the state of Florida

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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