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Cross-Bay Ferry Program Approved By St. Petersburg and Tampa

HMS Ferries by way of Mayor Rick Kriseman's office
A ferry could connect Tampa and St. Petersburg in November when approved by four different city councils.

St. Petersburg and Tampa’s City Councils approved Thursday a cross-bay ferry pilot program. The estimated total cost of the deal, which will run for six months, is $1.4 million dollars.

Out of four governmental bodies, the Pinellas County City Council has yet to vote on financially backing the initiative. They will cast their votes next week. Each of the city councils is voting to pay $350,000, a quarter of the total cost.

St. Petersburg’s Mayor Rick Kriseman was approved earlier this year to negotiate with HMS Ferries, the company that will run the ferries. The approved ferry will carry 149 passengers from downtown Tampa to St. Petersburg. The ferry runs throughout the day and is estimated that $10 will be the price of a one-way ticket.

Alan DeLisle, the city development administrator, said the price of a ticket could change, especially as community partnerships are made.

“Whether it's the business community during the day or entertainment entities at night, sporting venues- those partnerships will be completely explored between now and November 1,” DeLisle said.

DeLisle said that the counties will be tracking the number of passengers that use the ferry instead of driving to gauge the program's success. If it is successful, DeLisle said, the city could expand the project.

“This program is designed as more of an alternative,” DeLisle said. “To get people, whether they are going over to Tampa or coming to St. Pete for recreational purposes- like if they go to dinner or a baseball game- to not have to use the car.”

The ferry will only run for six months and both cities will be tracking the number of commuter and non-commuter passengers using the service. Consumer surveys will play a large role in measuring how this the community approves of this new addition to city transportation.

Devin Rodriguez is theWUSFStephen Noble News intern for summer 2016.
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