Water-Related News

St. Pete leaders on board with trial cross-bay ferry program

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ST. PETERSBURG – Mayor Rick Kriseman’s hope to start a high-speed ferry from the bayfront to downtown Tampa got a boost Thursday when the city council agreed to earmark $350,000 for a pilot program.

Kriseman already is seeking proposals from ferry companies to operate boats linking the two downtowns from October through April.

He plans to ask the city of Tampa and Pinellas and Hillsborough counties, and later the state Legislature, to contribute to the program, but said Thursday he first needed approval from his own city’s council.

“I can’t go to the other member governments and ask for a commitment from them if we haven’t made that commitment ourselves,” he said.

If those entities decline to participate, the pilot program will be scuttled and the money will be reallocated, Kriseman said.

“If we’re not able to put this deal together, if it doesn’t work, then we haven’t really lost anything,” Kriseman said.

He said ferry service proposals are due back to the city by Friday, Dec. 18. The city estimates it would cost about $1 million to operate a single boat, and about $1.5 million to run two, which Kriseman said would be necessary to make the service efficient.

Trips would take about 50 minutes each way, and the ferries are enclosed, with rest rooms and food-and-beverage counters.

(File photo from Tampa Bay Citizens high speed ferry initiative)