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Free Ferry Rides Between St. Pete And Tampa

Bobbie O'Brien
WUSF Public Media
The Cross-Bay Ferry backing off the dock just south of the Tampa Bay Convention Center.

You have today and Wednesday to catch a free ride on the new Cross-Bay Ferry. The “Test the Waters” promotion is taking passengers on a first come basis with no reservations needed.

Organizers are hoping the free 60-minute cruise will attract passengers willing to pay for the ferry service. in the future. The one-way fare between Tampa and St. Petersburg will be $10 for adults.

“My hope is that this is hugely successful and it will only be successful if people come out and actually ride the boat,” St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman said after the ferry’s inaugural cruise. ”So please everyone, if you want this to last, get on the boat, enjoy it, ride it, have a great time.”

The Cross-Bay Ferry is on a 6-month trial to measure its popularity and financial feasibility.

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL) of Tampa said that federal money is available to help fund the ferry if local governments demonstrate their support too.

“Just like there’s an important role to build roads, to build bridges, provide bus service, this is an untapped market that provides a very direct efficient route to get to your job or get to an event,” Castor said.

Events like Lightning hockey and Rays baseball games as well as concerts, theater and restaurants on both sides of the bay.

The cities of St. Petersburg and Tampa, and both Hillsborough and Pinellas counties chipped in $350,000 each for the 6-month trial, hoping the alternative transportation will prove financially feasible.

Promotional rides will continue through April with free rides offered every third Sunday of the month. For a schedule of departure and arrival times, go to CrossBayFerry.com.

Bobbie O’Brien has been a Reporter/Producer at WUSF since 1991. She reports on general news topics in Florida and the Tampa Bay region.
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