Cross-Bay Ferry Test Rides Coming

Sep 22, 2016

You will soon be able to test ride the new Cross-Bay Ferry.

One of the architects of the project, Ed Turanchik, said the plan is to give the public a chance to try out the ferry for free during Thanksgiving week. There will also be Friday through Sunday service offered for entertainment and tourism purposes beginning Nov. 4.

According to Turanchik, the ferry makes fiscal sense. For example, he said, “if you had eight ferries going between St. Petersburg and Westshore in Tampa, (they) can move the equivalent of the capacity of an entire highway lane.”

Turanchik said, “It would cost $50-60 million dollars to do that. Yet to build a whole new lane of interstate capacity from downtown St. Petersburg to Westshore would be billions of dollars. And that just kind of illustrates that there's better ways to do things.  And I think the water transport is low-lying fruit.  And we're going to find out what the market for it is pretty shortly. “

Turanchik says the regular fare would be $10 one-way. But if the service becomes permanent, commuters and "frequent riders" would get discounts on the service.

And there will be incentives on both sides of the bay to help defray the cost of the trip. Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties, along with the cities of St. Petersburg and Tampa, have together already put together a total of $1.4 million.  HMS Ferries is paying the rest of the guaranteed $1.5 milllion to bring the project to fruition.

The ferry has a capacity of about 150 people, and it won't be carrying cars. But Turanchik says there are great connectors on both sides of the bay for people to reach their destinations.